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Image of dry earth

Drought is a natural phenomenon in which rainfall is lower than average for an extended period of time, resulting in inadequate water supply. Drought can lead to public health problems. In Oregon, the Water Resources Department monitors for drought conditions. You can learn about national drought conditions at the U.S. Drought Portal.

Public Health Implications

The possible public health implications of drought include

  • compromised quantity and quality of drinking water;
  • increased recreational risks;
  • effects on air quality;
  • diminished living conditions related to energy, air quality, and sanitation and hygiene;
  • compromised food and nutrition; and
  • increased incidence of illness and disease.

The health implications of drought are numerous and far reaching. Some drought-related health effects are experienced in the short-term and can be directly observed and measured. However, the slow rise or chronic nature of drought can result in longer term, indirect health implications that are not always easy to anticipate or monitor.

Learn more about drought and health from the CDC.