Dry conditions are linked to more frequent and severe dust storms and wildfires.
Dr. Linda Rudolph from the non-profit Public Health Institute says the associated particulate matter is bad news for people with lung problems and heart disease.
"There might be an increased risk of pneumonia for people who are exposed to a lot of dust. In fact in the dust bowl in the 30’s, there were hundreds to thousands of deaths from what people called ‘dust pneumonia.'"
~Dr. Linda Rudolph, Public Health Institute
Rudolph says drought can dry up well water and increase water contamination in areas already struggling to get access to clean water.
She also says drought affects agricultural production, which rolls into problems with food prices and unemployment.
And those circumstances add more obstacles to staying healthy.
Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service crews are working in steep terrain to contain the Trailhead Fire in Placer and El Dorado counties. The fire had grown to 2,551 acres Friday and was 12 percent contained.
Forecasters say the threat of wildfires will remain high in Southern California and the Southwest in July and August because of persistent drought and because summer rains may not be as consistent as usual.
Fire restrictions are in effect on U.S. Forest Service lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Officials say illegal and unattended campfires cause over 90 percent of wildfires within the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The drought in California, in its fifth consecutive year, has created conditions ripe for wildfires. The National Interagency Fire Center predicts "above normal" fire potential through September for portions of California, Nevada and Idaho.
A new report shows there are certain highways in California that are "hot spots" for wildlife-vehicle collisions.