psycho-physical health risks


An adverse and traumatic event such as a flood of similar magnitude to that which occurred in Emilia Romagna can have very serious consequences on the psychophysical health of the subjects who have experienced it firsthand. The risks are direct and evident immediately, but can also occur in the long term as a post-traumatic effect.

The most common risks of this kind of phenomena in which water invades streets and houses, often remaining at high levels and stagnant for several days, are linked to infections, poisoning, post-traumatic stress. The experts of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (Sima), have raised an alarm on the “hygiene-sanitary and psychological risks” in the areas overwhelmed by bad weather in Emilia Romagna.

«After a flood – warns the president of Sima, Alessandro Miani – the risk of infections increases, especially for the elderly and children. From hepatitis A to bacterial infections due to Escherichia coli or Salmonella». The stagnant water then attracts mosquitoes which “increase the risk of transmission of other diseases”

Post-flood physical effects

The physical consequences of an event such as the flood in Emilia Romagna can be different. The most tragic, obviously, are death by drowning, cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes, but also hypothermia, injuries and wounds.

The overflow of sewage caused by floods, however, also causes long-term disturbances, therefore not immediately related to the flood, but due to stagnant water for example: it increases the risk of infections, gastrointestinal diseases, dermatitis, conjunctivitis. Real poisonings are also possible: in case of rupture of underground pipes, overflow of toxic waste, or release of chemicals stored in the ground.

Stagnant water: increases the risk of viruses

The risk of post-flood infections with water stagnation and release of waste water from the sewers is very high. Infections caused by parasites or bacterial infections can occur.

Post-flood psychological effects

The Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (Sima) has also placed emphasis on the psychological effects that a similar post-traumatic event can generate. No less important, anxiety, depression, psychosocial disorders may appear as a consequence of the damage suffered, the loss of family members and assets such as houses, cars, businesses, the condition of personal economic crisis that lies ahead, and being displaced.


In areas affected by the flood, still flooded, it is essential not to walk barefoot in the water, protect the skin from contact with the water, wearing high boots, waterproof clothing, gloves and personal protective equipment such as masks.


Leave a Reply