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Home arrow Health arrow Best practices for environmental health : environmental pollution, protection, quality and sustainability



(See endnotes 6, 7, and Chapter 4, “Children’s Environmental Health Issues”)


In 2011, in the United States, there were 1091 weather-related deaths, 8830 reported weather-related injuries or illnesses, and $23.9 billion in damages to property and crops. Natural disasters included fires, tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, drought, excessive heat, hurricanes, and earthquakes. (See endnote 1.) In Europe there was excessive cold leading to hundreds of deaths. In Japan there was a major earthquake and tsunami, with water 33 feet high, leading to massive destruction including the Fukushima nuclear power facility. The potential for a nuclear disaster had been created. There were approximately 23,000 dead and missing people from this incident.

Incidents of Natural Disasters and Weather-Related Impairment Drought

Drought is caused by an unusual severe lack of rain in a given area over one or more years compounded by the use of excessive quantities of water. It is a deficiency in precipitation compared to a normal level that a given area receives. Factors involved in various stages of drought include the rate of all types of precipitation; the amount of snow pack available; the rate of stream flow; the lake and reservoir storage levels; the groundwater levels; the amount of evapotranspiration from the soil and plants; the demand for water by the plants growing there; and the amount of water usage by people, business, and industry. The degree of drought varies from area to area and from time to time, but is always affected by the rate of usage of the water resources.

Drought crosses political boundaries, therefore all individuals within a given water basin should be involved in drought management and contingency planning. Drought also is not a stand-alone problem but rather may be related to several different types of hazardous situations, such as fires, mudslides, destruction of crops, destruction of the built environment, etc. It should be part of multihazard planning which should be part of all municipal planning processes.

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