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The disappearing lake: An historical analysis of drought and the Salton Sea in the context of the Planetary Health/GeoHealth framework
  • Pam DeGuzman,
  • Aubrey L Doede
Pam DeGuzman
University of Virginia School of Nursing, University of Virginia School of Nursing

Corresponding Author:prb7y@virginia.edu

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Aubrey L Doede
University of Virginia, University of Virginia
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The Imperial Valley region of Southeastern California has become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the state. It also has the highest rates of childhood asthma in California. Lack of precipitation in the Imperial Valley has caused the water level of the Salton Sea to recede to a record low since its formation in the early 1900s. Previous studies of wind and dust deposition conducted in other regions have shown how reduced precipitation, ground heating, and the diminishing water level in an arid climate pose a risk of exposing previously-sequestered toxic chemicals to open air, adversely affecting lung health. The purpose of this study is to draw historical parallels between the Aral Sea and Salton Sea in the context of geomorphology, ecology, human health, economics, and human migration, to inform an assessment of environmentally related health impacts of those living in the Imperial Valley region. Future droughts and heatwaves are expected to rise in frequency and severity, and may disproportionately affecting those impacted by financial and health disparities. Future research must include the implications of population health in the context of Planetary Health and GeoHealth as a result of the most recent drought and the receding water levels of the Salton Sea.