The researchers at the IIT in New Delhi are conducting a study to develop India-specific heat stress tolerance thresholds to formulate a plan for heat management as they believe such stress might increase global warming.

The study is part of a project ‘Heat Stress Index for India: projection for near future (HIIPROF)’ undertaken by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi’s Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS), in partnership with five other institutes of India.

Heat stress is stress felt by the body when it is exposed to heat in the summer. The project will help in formulating a better and efficient heat management plan across the country as heat stress is expected to increase global warming.

“Heat stress condition is an environmental condition when the body starts feeling stressed out of its normal ability to balance the body temperature. The ability to exchange heat with the surrounding depends not only on temperature but also on humidity, wind, and types of clothing, activity, and physical structure,” Sagnik Dey from CAS, IIT Delhi, who is also project’s Principal Investigator, said.

“Under searing heat human body struggles and beyond a threshold stress condition, they cannot tolerate anymore and can suffer heat stroke. Since India has diverse climatic conditions, it is important to define the thresholds of stress in different parts of the country.

“This will help the government to formulate appropriate heat management plan, especially when heat condition is expected to worsen in India under global warming,” Dey added.

Dey further said, “Even if heat stroke is avoided, the stress can cause issues like headache, cell damage, renal failure, fatigue, neurological problems, kidney stones.”

The study funded by the Department of Science and Technology under ‘Climate Change and Human Health Programme’ is a population-based survey through which the Centre is collecting data about the people’s perception of heat exposure along with direct measurement of stress condition and thermal imaging of human physiology under heat stress.

The survey is seeking people’s response to questions like at what time of the day they felt maximum discomfort, nature of the day whether it was dry and hot or humid, what kind of activity they undertook on a particular day.