13051 - Public Health Consequences of Earthquakes. Part II....

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Public Health Consequences of Earthquakes. Part II. Eric K. Noji , M.D., M.P.H. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Washington, D.C.
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PREVENTION AND CONTROL MEASURES Until earthquake prevention and control measures are adopted and mitigation actions implemented throughout the United States, a single severe earthquake could cause tens of thousands of deaths and serious injuries and economic losses exceeding one hundred billion dollars (5) .
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Primary Prevention of Earthquakes Although we can neither prevent earthquakes nor set off small ones to prevent big ones, we should take earthquakes into consideration before undertaking activities known to precipitate earthquakes, such as making deep well injections, filling water impoundments, and discharging nuclear explosives underground.
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Recent research findings support the view that preventing structural collapse is the most effective approach to reducing earthquake-related fatalities and serious injuries (5) . Engineering interventions have largely been directed to increasing the ability of new buildings to withstand ground shaking or to retrofitting existing hazardous buildings. The most stringent level of seismic security will allow buildings to withstand earthquakes with little or no damage (94) . Safer Construction
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Anecdotal evidence from earthquakes in Guatemala (1976), Mexico City (1985), and Armenia (1988) suggests that suffocation from dust inhalation may be a significant factor in the deaths of many people who die without apparent severe external trauma (15,46,97) . However, the use of certain building materials and finishes may reduce dust production-- for example, plasterboard may produce less dust on collapse than wet applied plaster. Developing and using methods of reducing dust release during a building collapse could perhaps prevent many deaths. Safer Construction (cont.)
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Because of improved building construction codes, land use planning, and preparedness, the losses in the San Francisco Bay area from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and in the Los Angeles area from the 1994 Northridge earthquake were kept much lower than would have occurred in a less well-prepared region. Development and Enforcement of Seismic Safety Codes
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Many injuries and much of the cost and disruption from earthquakes are caused by the contents of buildings, including equipment, machinery, and other nonstructural elements. Therefore, the structural stability and robustness to violent shaking of all of these elements should be reviewed. A room- by-room review is likely to reveal many items that could cause injury to the room's occupants in the event of violent shaking. Although often beyond the purview of building codes (or any reasonable hope of enforcement for that matter), heavy furniture, glass cabinets, appliances, and objects placed where they could fall or be thrown about should be firmly secured to prevent them from striking people in the event of an earthquake. Special precautions must be taken with sources of
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2012 for the course PHARM 300 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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13051 - Public Health Consequences of Earthquakes. Part II....

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