Drought Harms Health image text

DROUGHT HARMS HEALTH
Drought harms the health of individuals, communities, and our nation through a variety of ways.
Drought worsens heatwaves and wildfires, while also creating dry soil leading to more dust in the air.
Limited water availability contributes to economic losses for water-reliant businesses (e.g., farming) and reduces river/stream flows with impacts on water levels in wells and aquifers.

HEAT-RELATED
Intensified risk for heatstroke and complications of heart, lung, and kidney disease

[water well]

WATER QUALITY
Increases exposure to toxic algae blooms and harmful water pollutants like arsenic, nitrate, fuels/contaminants

INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Creates more suitable conditions for mosquitoes that spread West Nile Virus
Favors the spread of the fungus that causes Valley Fever

[farmer holding a tool]

[mosquitoes flying around]

MENTAL HEALTH
Contributes to stress, anxiety, and depression related to damaged lands, economic, instability, and water/food insecurity

RESPIRATORY
Causes breathing problems and worsens heart disease, asthma, and other lung conditions

[fire and smoke]

[dry trees and crops]

U.S. DROUGHT CONDITIONS AS OF JULY 13, 2021
[Map of the U.S. showing states with dry, drier, driest conditions]

U.S. DROUGHT INEQUITIES
Drought-related risks and harms are not felt equally, including:
Food insecurity: Drought decreases crop nutrients and yields, contributing to malnutrition, rising food prices, and shortages for the vulnerable.
Vulnerability to water shortages and contaminated well water: Inequitable and racist policies often force certain communities, such as low-income and Indigenous, to lack adequate water right/access, depend on small water and/or private drinking wells, and be at higher risk for urban shutoffs.
Job loss: Nearly 65% of farmworkers identify as Hispanic and face with increased vulnerability to extended, drought-related economic impacts.
Cultural threats: Many Indigenous communities already struggle with the impacts of long-term drought on cultural/medicinal plants, drinking water supplies, and traditional foods like corn, wild rice, and salmon.