Drought linked with human health risks in US analysis

In a retrospective study of health claims for 618 U.S. counties over 14 years, researchers found that severe drought conditions increased the risk of mortality among adults 65 or over.
They identified periods of periods of "non-drought," "full drought," and periods when droughts were "worsening."
In the case of periods when droughts were worsening, they further broke down the drought days into "low severity" and "high severity."
According to their findings, respiratory admissions decreased by 1.99 percent during full drought periods.
But when drought escalated to periods of "high severity worsening" conditions, the researchers found, mortality risk increased by 1.55 percent.
Dry conditions also trigger more dust and particulate matter in the air.
"Since health risks appear to increase with drought severity, you have time to enact clinical interventions to help avoid some of these adverse health outcomes," he said.
"I am so delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Yale and the Hopkins teams to conduct such important study," said co-author Francesca Dominici, Professor of Biostatistics and co-Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.
### Other researchers included Keita Ebisu, a postdoctoral associate at F&ES and Roger Peng, a professor of biostatistics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public.
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