Die Kommission hat zum Ziel, die Interessen der Hydrologie in der Schweiz in den relevanten nationalen und internationalen Gremien und Organisationen zu koordinieren und zu vertreten.mehr

Bild: thomasfuer, photocase.demehr

Climate health risks posed by floods, droughts and water quality call for urgent action

Climate change is worsening floods, droughts and is reducing water quality, posing an increasing threat to our health, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report. Fast-tracking implementation and better coordination of efforts by governments, water authorities and healthcare providers are urgently needed to prevent and reduce health impacts.

EEA (2024) Climate health risks posed by floods, droughts and water quality call for urgent action
Bild: EEA

Key risks calling for action

Between 1980 and 2022, 5,584 flood-related deaths were recorded in the 32 EEA member countries.
Currently, around 53 million people (12% of Europe’s population) live in areas potentially prone to river flooding, although often with flood defences in place. This number increased by 935,000 between 2011 and 2021, showing continuous development on floodplains.
One in nine hospitals in Europe is located in areas potentially prone to river flooding.

Droughts and water scarcity:
Due to demand for water and droughts, regions in Europe are under nearly permanent water stress, and not just in the south.
Prolonged spells of dry and hot weather facilitate the spread of wildfires, mainly in southern Europe, but increasingly in other regions. Between 1980 and 2022, 702 people lost lives directly through wildfires in the 32 EEA member countries, and many more were affected by wildfire smoke.

Water quality:
Rising air and water temperatures facilitate pathogen growth, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.
Heavy rainfall events make it twice as likely to have harmful pathogen concentrations in water bodies due to contaminated run-off and combined sewage overflows.
In low-lying areas, sea level rise causes intrusion of saline water into groundwater and surface water aquifers, with spillover effects on crops.
Low flows during dry periods result in higher concentrations of pollutants, requiring costly wastewater treatment. During dry and hot periods, cyanobacterial blooms in nutrient-rich waters can jeopardise water quality.