Climate Change and Your Health: The Hidden Health Risks of Flooding in a Warming World

Published Mar 15, 2012


Over the past 30 years, floods have tended to be one of the most deadly and expensive type of natural disaster in the United States. The impact of a flood is typically measured in terms of lives lost and the dollar value of property damaged or destroyed. But the often-substantial public health costs that follow a flood—and the toll that such health impacts may take on families even long after the waters have receded—are rarely included. Heavy rains or storm surges can contaminate drinking and recreational water with sewage, agricultural waste, chemical pollutants, or animal wastes, leading to waterborne gastrointestinal illnesses. Flooded homes and buildings can be a breeding ground for mold, which can cause debilitating respiratory and neurological problems. Mental health problems also tend to increase in the wake of extreme weather disasters.

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