Journal Article

Assessment of the combination of temperature and relative humidity on kidney stone presentations

Ross, M. E., Vicedo-Cabrera, A. M., Kopp, R. E., Song, L., Goldfarb, D. S., Pulido, J., Warner, S., Furth, S. L., Tasian, G. E., Assessment of the combination of temperature and relative humidity on kidney stone presentations, Environmental Research, Volume 162, April 2018, Pages 97-105, ISSN 0013-9351,

Published January 2, 2018


Temperature and relative humidity have opposing effects on evaporative water loss, the likely mediator of the temperature-dependence of nephrolithiasis. However, prior studies considered only dry-bulb temperatures when estimating the temperature-dependence of nephrolithiasis. We used distributed lag non-linear models and repeated 10-fold cross-validation to determine the daily temperature metric and corresponding adjustment for relative humidity that most accurately predicted kidney stone presentations during hot and cold periods in South Carolina from 1997 to 2015. We examined three metrics for wet-bulb temperatures and heat index, both of which measure the combination of temperature and humidity, and for dry-bulb temperatures: (1) daytime mean temperature; (2) 24-h mean temperature; and (3) most extreme 24-h temperature. For models using dry-bulb temperatures, we considered four treatments of relative humidity. Among 188,531 patients who presented with kidney stones, 24-h wet bulb temperature best predicted kidney stone presentation during summer. Mean cross-validated residuals were generally lower in summer for wet-bulb temperatures and heat index than the corresponding dry-bulb temperature metric, regardless of type of adjustment for relative humidity. Those dry-bulb models that additionally adjusted for relative humidity had higher mean residuals than other temperature metrics. The relative risk of kidney stone presentations at the 99th percentile of each temperature metric compared to the respective median temperature in summer months differed by temperature metric and relative humidity adjustment, and ranged from an excess risk of 8–14%. All metrics performed similarly in winter. The combination of temperature and relative humidity determine the risk of kidney stone presentations, particularly during periods of high heat and humidity. These results suggest that metrics that measure moist heat stress should be used to estimate the temperature-dependence of kidney stone presentations, but that the particular metric is relatively unimportant.