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Public Health Impact of the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest

Caswell A. Evans, Jr.
Public Health Reports (1974-)
Vol. 108, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1993), pp. 265-272
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4597370
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Public Health Impact of the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest
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Abstract

The Los Angeles civil unrest in April 1992 stunned the nation. The days of violence resulted in 53 deaths, 2,325 reported injuries, more than 600 buildings completely destroyed by fire, and approximately $735 million in total damages. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of the activities of the Public Health Programs and Services Branch of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services during and after the civil unrest and to illustrate the types of public health issues and problems that may result from largescale civil disturbance. Public health agencies and jurisdictions should consider these issues in their disaster planning. Public Health Programs and Services Branch activities were directly affected by the violence and distruction. Women, Infants and Children Program vouchering sites and 20 drug program and alcohol recovery sites were damaged or burned and 15 county health centers closed during the unrest. At least 38 private medical and dental offices and 45 pharmacies were destroyed or damaged. County health authorities offered facilities to house relocated private care providers and filled prescriptions for medications where needed. The environmental health impact required the inspection of 2,827 burned and damaged sites for hazardous waste including asbestos; at 9 percent of the inspected sites, waste required special disposal. More than 1,000 food facilities suffered damage and required inspection before reopening. In the 3 months following the unrest, a 20-percent increase in disposal capacity was authorized at four county landfills to accommodate the disposal of debris. Violence was a public health issue of particular concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a team to study the violence from an epidemiologic perspective. The Federal agency also provided funding for televised children's talk shows dealing with reactions to the violence.

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