Floods as human health risks

Ellen Bloomer, Owen Landeg, Olivier Le Polain De Waroux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Floods are the most frequent disasters, representing approximately 45% of the total number of reported disasters worldwide. The potential health impacts of floods occur immediately, during the clean-up and in the medium- to long-term. The impacts strongly depend on the exposure and vulnerability of the population affected, as well as the nature of the flood (e.g. slow or fast onset). Low- and middle-income countries pay a much larger human toll from floods than high-income countries. It is estimated that two-thirds of deaths attributable to flooding are from drowning. Infectious disease outbreaks can occur, usually in low-income settings; examples include the disruption of water and sanitation infrastructures and overcrowding leading to waterborne and respiratory diseases, and environmental changes producing changes in vector-borne disease transmission. Mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, have been found to emerge following flood events in both low- and high-income countries, as has the worsening of chronic conditions due to disruption in health care and access to medication. This article covers the most frequent health impacts of floods and discusses options for health planning, preparedness, mitigation and response to flood disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Environmental Health
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780444639523
ISBN (Print)9780444639516
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Chemical hazards
  • Chronic disease
  • Climate variability
  • Disasters
  • Displacement
  • Drowning
  • Extreme events
  • Floods
  • Health inequalities
  • Healthcare infrastructure
  • Infectious diseases
  • Injuries
  • Mental health
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction
  • Skin infections


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