Climate change and urbanization have led to an increase in the frequency of extreme water related events such as flooding, which has negative impacts on the environment, economy and human health. With respect to the latter, our understanding of the interrelationship between flooding, urban surface water and human health is still very limited. More in-depth research in this area is needed to further strengthen the process of planning and implementation of responses to mitigate the negative health impacts of flooding in urban areas. The objective of this paper is to assess the state of the research on the interrelationship between surface water quality, flood water quality and human health in urban areas based on the published literature. These insights will be instrumental in identifying and prioritizing future research needs in this area. In this study, research publications in the domain of urban flooding, surface water quality and human health were collated using keyword searches. A detailed assessment of these publications substantiated the limited number of publications focusing on the link between flooding and human health. There was also an uneven geographical distribution of the study areas, as most of the studies focused on developed countries. A few studies have focused on developing countries, although the severity of water quality issues is higher in these countries. The study also revealed a disparity of research in this field across regions in China as most of the studies focused on the populous south-eastern region of China. The lack of studies in some regions has been attributed to the absence of flood water quality monitoring systems which allow the collection of real-time water quality monitoring data during flooding in urban areas. The widespread implementation of cost effective real-time water quality monitoring systems which are based on the latest remote or mobile phone based data acquisition techniques is recommended. Better appreciation of health risks may lead to better flood risk management. In summary, there is still a limited understanding of the relationship between urban surface water quality, flood water quality and health impacts. This also holds true for Chinese cities. Given the widespread and frequent occurrence of urban flooding, further research into this specific cross-cutting field is mandatory.
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