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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

Hazard Outlook for Days 8–14
Air Quality
U.S. Drought Monitor
Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)
U.S. Drought Monitor

of counties in Moderate to Exceptional (D1-D4) Drought also have high Social Vulnerability risk
National Weather Service heat warnings
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.