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Drought can cause significant human health outcomes that can challenge public health departments, emergency managers, and healthcare providers. Drought can lead to decreased water quantity and quality, increased incidence of illness or disease, increased mortality rates, and adverse mental health outcomes as livelihoods are challenged.

Public Health and Drought Conditions

Air Quality
Value Map Hex Color Description
Good #01e400 AQI 0 to 50: Good Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk. Learn more.
Moderate #ffff00 AQI 51 to 100: Moderate Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Learn more.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups #ff7e00 AQI 101 to 150: Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected. Learn more.
Value Map Hex Color Description
Unhealthy #ff0000 AQI 151 to 200: Unhealthy Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Learn more.
Very Unhealthy #8f3f97 AQI 201 to 300: Very Unhealthy Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone. Learn more.
Hazardous #7e0023 AQI >301: Hazardous Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected. Learn more.
U.S. Drought Monitor
Value Map Hex Color Description
D0 #ffff00 D0 - Abnormally Dry Abnormally Dry (D0) indicates a region that is going into or coming out of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D1 #fcd37f D1 – Moderate Drought Moderate Drought (D1) is the first of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D2 #fa0 D2 – Severe Drought Severe Drought (D2) is the second of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D3 #e60000 D3 – Extreme Drought Extreme Drought (D3) is the third of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D4 #730000 D4 – Exceptional Drought Exceptional Drought (D4) is the most intense drought category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)
Value Map Hex Color
High SVI areas in drought #225ea8
U.S. Drought Monitor
Value Map Hex Color Description
D0 #ffff00 D0 - Abnormally Dry Abnormally Dry (D0) indicates a region that is going into or coming out of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D1 #fcd37f D1 – Moderate Drought Moderate Drought (D1) is the first of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D2 #fa0 D2 – Severe Drought Severe Drought (D2) is the second of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D3 #e60000 D3 – Extreme Drought Extreme Drought (D3) is the third of four drought categories (D1–D4), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
D4 #730000 D4 – Exceptional Drought Exceptional Drought (D4) is the most intense drought category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. View typical impacts by state.
Heat Warnings
Value Map Hex Color
Areas under Heat Advisories #b64e6d
Areas under Excessive Heat Warnings #6e3a9a
Areas under Excessive Heat Watches #36185e
U.S. Drought Monitor
Value Map Hex Color
D0 #ffff00
D1 #ffcc99
D2 #ff6600
D3 #ff0000
D4 #660000

20.61
%
of counties in Moderate to Exceptional (D1-D4) Drought also have high Social Vulnerability risk
0
National Weather Service heat warnings
371,074
people within 10 miles of an active large wildfire
Key Issues

Water Quality and Quantity

Drought can reduce the water supply that serves not only households and businesses, but also at-risk populations. Droughts can also lead to compromised water quality due to factors like increased salinity, increased algal production, less dilution, and reduced oxygen levels in the water system.

Air Quality

During drought, there is an increased risk for wildfires and dust storms. Particulate matter from these events can irritate bronchial passages and lungs and exacerbate chronic heart and lung conditions.

Increased Incidence of Illness and Disease

Drought often results in drier conditions, which can increase the risk of disease. For example, drier conditions can increase reproduction of a fungus found in soils and lead to the disease coccidioidomycosis, or Valley fever.

Mental Health Impacts

Drought and its economic consequences can lead to increased mental health impacts, including mood disorders, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide.

Related Content

Data & Maps | Public Health

View datasets and maps that show drought-related impacts on public health.

Data & Maps | Fire

Drought can increase the risk of wildfire, which can negatively impact air quality. View datasets and maps on current and predicted outlooks for fire risk, potential, and occurrence.