On Capital Public Radio's Insight, Rudolph pointed out that the lack of rain can dry out soils. That could increase dust levels, and dust carries pollen.
"[This] increases allergy and asthma. And dust can also carry pathogens. Over the last decade we've seen an increase in Valley Fever, a fungal disease in the Central Valley. That can be increased when dust levels increase and the spores of this disease are carried in the dust."
~Dr. Linda Rudolph, Center for Climate Change and Health
Rudolph says the drought could also trigger other health problems such as an increase in diabetes in some poor, rural communities. She says when drinking water becomes scarce, people turn to other fluids.
"And when those other alternatives are things like soda, it just exacerbates health problems such as obesity," she says.
Rudolph says droughts can also reduce agricultural crop yields leading to significant food price increases.
"And we see the same thing when people have to pay more for food. Low income people often turn to calorie dense food that is associated with more calories, obesity and diabetes," she says.
Continued drought brings drawdown of groundwater in California, other western states.
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Many people living in small Central Valley communities in California are watching their wells run dry. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more federal aid to help those hurt by the drought.
AP - U.S. Agriculture Secretary announced drought aid to help rural Californians.