PURPOSE: Earthquakes pose a persistent but unpredictable health threat. Although knowledge of geologic earthquake hazards for buildings has increased, spatial relations between injuries and seismic activity have not been explained. METHODS: Fatal and hospital-admitted earthquake injuries due to the 1994 Northridge Earthquake were identified. Geographical Information Systems software was used to map all injury locations. Injuries were analyzed with regard to distance from the earthquake epicenter, the Modified Mercalli Intensity Index, peak ground acceleration, and proportion of damaged residential buildings. RESULTS: Injury severity was inversely related to distance from the epicenter and increased with increasing ground motion and building damage. However, injury incidence and severity were not completely predicted by seismic hazard and building damage, and injuries of all severities occurred in a large geographic area. Average distance to the epicenter was smallest for injuries related to falling building parts and largest for cutting/piercing injuries and falls. CONCLUSIONS: The injuries from the Northridge Earthquake extended beyond the areas of highest environmental activity. Factors such as age and activity during the earthquake may be equally important in predicting injury from earthquakes as seismic features. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank David Deckelbaum, M.L.A., Jonnie Hargis, Danny Krouk, M.A., and Scott Martin from the UCLA University Research Library; Linda Bourque, Ph.D. from the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief; Billie Weiss, M.P.H. and Maya Mahue-Giangreco, Ph.D. from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; Ron Eguchi, M.S. from EQE International; and James Dewey from the U.S. Geologic Survey. This research was funded by a grant from the California Department of Health Services Emergency Preparedness and Injury Control Branch (95–23008 A2) and the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center (CDC CCR 903622).