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( By A Study Guide (Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) )

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Lesson 1 - An Overview

Study Guide

In this introductory lesson you should gain a general awareness that damage from sudden natural disasters disrupts environmental health conditions and services and consequently can affect the health of people.

Learning Objectives

Identify four types of sudden natural disasters.
Be aware of their potential effects on essential lifeline services.
Recognize the public health hazards that could result.

Learning Activities

Read pages 3-6 in the manual. Read, but do not memorize, Tables 1 and 2 in the manual.


Complete the Self-Assessment Test.


Lesson 1 - Self-Assessment Test

Multiple Choice

Circle the correct answer(s):

1. Relocation of disaster victims in camps:

a. is the preferred way to provide essential services to disaster victims
b. can result in secondary health emergencies
c. usually represents the most efficient use of scarce resources
d. should never be attempted

2.Match each lifeline service with one common effect a disaster could have on it:

Lifeline Service

- water supply and wastewater disposal
- solid waste handling
- food handling
- vector control
- home sanitation


a. increase in human contact with malaria mosquitoes
b. water, soil and air pollution
c. overcrowding
d. system overloading
e. contamination of relief supplies

3. If food and water supplies are contaminated by untreated human waste, the greatest concern is:

a. creation of a fire hazard in densely populated areas
b. lack of clean clothing and utensils
c. creation of nuisance problems
d. fouling of the food and water
e. increased risk of disease
f. resurgence of disease vectors

4. The major risk associated with overcrowding is:

a. introduction of new vectors
b. heightened exposure to decaying matter
c. increase in mental stress
d. increase in diarrheal Disease
e. disruption of power and heat fuel

5. Which pair combines a consequence with the correct natural disaster (i.e. tsunami - volcanic eruption):

a. winds - earthquake
b. floods- hurricane
c. heavy rains - tsunami
d. fires - hurricane
e. none of the above

6. Proliferation of disease vectors is of particular concern in areas where:

a. water supply systems have been overloaded
b. they were prevalent before the disaster
c. they were not prevalent before the disaster
d. solid waste disposal systems have been disrupted
e. there is an increase in waterborne disease

7. Areas most deficient in adequate sanitation and washing facilities are likely to be:

a. densely populated urban centers
b. areas farthest from a centralized waste treatment facility
c. widely scattered rural communities
d. camps for displaced persons

8. It is absolutely critical that water be provided to disaster stricken populations:

a. only after it has been disinfected
b. where fire hazards have been created due to disruption of solid waste disposal systems.
c. in quantities sufficient to satisfy drinking, washing, bathing, and laundering needs.
d. in sufficient quantities for drinking purposes
e. to enable sanitation measures to be carried out


Indicate T or F:

___9. In disaster preparedness planning, it should always be assumed and anticipated that a natural disaster will disrupt basic lifeline services.

___10. Long and short-term effects on environmental health services will vary according to the type of disaster.