With the environment becoming more unpredictable than ever, one question becomes more crucial. What atmospheric conditions can be too deadly for the human body? Scientists have asked themselves this question and have arrived at an answer.
Temperature and humidity are two popular ways to describe the status of the atmosphere. Temperature describes the degree of hotness or coldness. But humidity is concerned about the amount of water content in the air.
These two atmospheric measures work hand in hand to create a conducive environment for mankind to thrive. If any or both of these measures decide to become uncooperative, the survival of mankind could be in jeopardy.
It has since been established that it takes a temperature contribution of 35 degrees Celsius or 95 Fahrenheit, plus 100% humidity to get to the no-survival point.
At 100% humidity, the air is full of water vapor – so full that sweat will find it difficult to leave the body due to a lack of space in the atmosphere. This situation will result in heart stroke, failure of the organs, and even death.
In the aspect of temperature, 35 degrees Celsius, also known as the “wet bulb temperature,” when combined with 100% humidity is a dangerous temperature for the human body to cope with. Interestingly, this temperature has been surpassed more than ten different times in places in the Persian Gulf and Southern Asia.
If you are wondering why there weren’t any mass deaths, the reason is here. None of these incidents lasted for more than two hours. So, there wasn’t enough time for this atmospheric condition to have its deadly effect.
But a closer and more recent investigation among the science community has disagreed with this widely held 35 degrees and 100% humidity threshold. Scientists have found that even milder combinations of temperature and humidity can end man’s existence.
Depending on age, health, and a host of other factors, less severe atmospheric conditions could threaten human life. That’s why the last heat wave in Europe succeeded in claiming over 60,000 human lives.
But scientists have gone a step further to disprove the 35-degree Celsius and 100% humidity (or 46-degree Celsius and 50% humidity) theory. Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University, using a heat chamber, calculated the core temperatures of several young and healthy people.
At 30.6 degrees Celsius, the human body reached a certain level where it could no longer maintain its core temperature. Once this level was exceeded, the body’s core temperature began to rise continuously and dangerously.
This discovery is a bigger cause for concern as the newly found “wet bulb temperature” of 30.6 degrees Celsius is significantly lower than previously believed 35 degrees Celsius.
It is also important to note that the survival of some demographics is more at risk in such circumstances. Younger children and people over the age of 65 who have a smaller number of sweat glands are more vulnerable.
According to Colin Raymond, scientist and researcher at the University of California and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “It is the people who are least able to insulate themselves from these extremes who will be suffering the most,” just like the other impacts of climate change.