Climate change is worsening floods, droughts and is reducing water quality, posing an increasing threat to our health, according to a new 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.

The EEA report ‘Responding to climate change impacts on human health in Europe: focus on floods, droughts and water quality’ draws attention to the water-related impacts of climate change on health and well-being that are already felt across Europe and include deaths, injuries, outbreaks of infectious diseases and mental health consequences.

Between 1980 and 2022, 5,582 flood-related deaths and 702 wildfire-related deaths were recorded across 32 European countries. Already today, one in eight Europeans lives in areas potentially prone to river floods and around 30% of people in southern Europe face permanent water stress. Climate change will further increase exposure of people to weather extremes with serious health consequences. Senior citizens, children, those in poor health, lower income groups, farmers and emergency service teams are among the groups experiencing greatest health impacts from floods, droughts, wildfires or water- and vector-borne diseases.

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