Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The lagged effect of cold temperature and wind chill on cardiorespiratory mortality in Scotland
  1. M Carder1,
  2. R McNamee2,
  3. I Beverland3,
  4. R Elton4,
  5. G R Cohen5,
  6. J Boyd6,
  7. R M Agius
  1. 1Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Biostatistics Group, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3Department of Civil Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  4. 4Public Health Sciences Section, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5Emmes Corporation, Rockville, MD, USA
  6. 6Information and Statistics Division, NHS Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor R M Agius
 Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences, University of Manchester, C Block, Level 4, Humanities Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK;


Aims: To investigate the lagged effects of cold temperature on cardiorespiratory mortality and to determine whether “wind chill” is a better predictor of these effects than “dry bulb” temperature.

Methods: Generalised linear Poisson regression models were used to investigate the relation between mortality and “dry bulb” and “wind chill” temperatures in the three largest Scottish cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen) between January 1981 and December 2001. Effects of temperature on mortality (lags up to one month) were quantified. Analyses were conducted for the whole year and by season (cool and warm seasons).

Main results: Temperature was a significant predictor of mortality with the strongest association observed between temperature and respiratory mortality. There was a non-linear association between mortality and temperature. Mortality increased as temperatures fell throughout the range, but the rate of increase was steeper at temperatures below 11°C. The association between temperature and mortality persisted at lag periods beyond two weeks but the effect size generally decreased with increasing lag. For temperatures below 11°C, a 1°C drop in the daytime mean temperature on any one day was associated with an increase in mortality of 2.9% (95% CI 2.5 to 3.4), 3.4% (95% CI 2.6 to 4.1), 4.8% (95% CI 3.5 to 6.2) and 1.7% (95% CI 1.0 to 2.4) over the following month for all cause, cardiovascular, respiratory, and “other” cause mortality respectively. The effect of temperature on mortality was not observed to be significantly modified by season. There was little indication that “wind chill” temperature was a better predictor of mortality than “dry bulb” temperature.

Conclusions: Exposure to cold temperature is an important public health problem in Scotland, particularly for those dying from respiratory disease.

  • temperature
  • wind chill
  • cardiorespiratory mortality
  • particulate air pollution

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interest statement: none declared.