Drought and Health

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When rainfall is lower than average for an extended period of time, drought can occur. Some of the numerous and far-reaching health implications of drought include reduced quantity and quality of drinking water, diminished air quality, and increases in illness and disease.

Cycles of drought have affected North America for the last 10,000 years. Droughts can last from a single season to many decades and can affect from a few hundred to millions of square miles. Drought can affect areas or communities differently depending on several additional variables. These variables include:

  • The structure and capacity of existing water systems,
  • Local governance of water use,
  • Economic development,
  • The at-risk populations living within the affected area, and
  • Other societal factors, such as the presence of local social networks.

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Page last reviewed: August 17, 2015
Page last updated: August 17, 2015