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.
Intensified risk for heatstroke and complications of heart, lung, and kidney disease
Increases exposure to toxic algae blooms and harmful water pollutants like arsenic, nitrate, fuels/contaminants
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]
Contributes to stress, anxiety, and depression related to damaged lands, economic, instability, and water/food insecurity
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.