Urban Heat Islands and Social Work: Opportunities for Intervention

Billy Hamilton, Christina L. Erickson


The urban heat island (UHI), formed by surface modification of soil and vegetation, increases minimum nighttime temperatures within cities and causes heat-stress among dwellers. Children, elders and low-income persons are disproportionately burdened by the UHI. These populations often lack the necessary biological, economic and social resources to cope with or prevent heat stress. Because UHI’s are expected to increase with climate change, more social workers will be expected to serve the populations most affected by UHI. This paper addresses how the social work profession can play a role in efforts to address the effects of UHI’s on vulnerable populations.


Urban heat island, environmental justice, heat stress, climate change

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