Indoor heat exposure in Baltimore: does outdoor temperature matter?

D. W. Waugh, Z. He, B. Zaitchik, R. D. Peng, G. B. Diette, N. N. Hansel, E. C. Matsui, P. N. Breysse, D. H. Breysse, K. Koehler, D. Williams, M. C. McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heat exposure of a population is often estimated by applying temperatures from outdoor monitoring stations. However, this can lead to exposure misclassification if residents do not live close to the monitoring station and temperature varies over small spatial scales due to land use/built environment variability, or if residents generally spend more time indoors than outdoors. Here, we compare summertime temperatures measured inside 145 homes in low-income households in Baltimore city with temperatures from the National Weather Service weather station in Baltimore. There is a large variation in indoor temperatures, with daily-mean indoor temperatures varying from 10 °C lower to 10 °C higher than outdoor temperatures. Furthermore, there is only a weak association between the indoor and outdoor temperatures across all houses, indicating that the outdoor temperature is not a good predictor of the indoor temperature for the residences sampled. It is shown that much of the variation is due to differences in the availability of air conditioning (AC). Houses with central AC are generally cooler than outdoors (median difference of − 3.4 °C) while those with no AC are generally warmer (median difference of 1.4 °C). For the collection of houses with central or room AC, there is essentially no relationship between indoor and outdoor temperatures, but for the subset of houses with no AC, there is a weak relationship (correlation coefficient of 0.36). The results presented here suggest future epidemiological studies of indoor exposure to heat would benefit from information on the availability of AC within the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-488
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Air conditioning
  • Heat exposure
  • Housing
  • Indoor temperature
  • Outdoor temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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