After heavy rainfall, flooding can occur in urban areas. Direct contact with this water leads to an increased risk of health problems. This type of rainfall is increasingly expected in the future. RIVM asked nearly 1,200 people about symptoms of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections after flooding.

Due to climate change, it is expected that the Netherlands will have to deal more frequently with extreme rainfall. If the sewage system cannot discharge this water, the sewer overflows. As a result, the floodwater can become contaminated with pathogens. Specifically in urban areas, this can lead to nuisance.


RIVM investigated the health risks associated with urban flooding. People exposed to the floodwater were more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal and respiratory infections than those who did not. Therefore, it is important that people become more aware of the health risks of exposure to floodwater.


The researchers investigated places with flooding based on 112 emergency reports. After this, the residents were asked to fill in questionnaires about symptoms of infectious diseases in the period after the flooding. There were also questions about the type of activity that caused people to have contact with the floodwater.