Explosions and human health: The long-term effects of blast injury

Sarah E. Finlay, Michelle Earby, David J. Baker*, Virginia Murray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The immediate patterns of injury from explosions are well documented, from both military and civil experience. However, few studies have focused on less immediately apparent health consequences and latent effects of explosions in survivors, emergency responders and the surrounding community. This review aimed to analyze the risks to health following an explosion in a civil setting. A comprehensive review of the open literature was conducted, and data on 10 relevant military, civilian and industrial events were collected. Events were selected according to availability of published studies and involvement of large numbers of people injured. In addition, structured interviews with experts in the field were conducted, and existing national guidelines reviewed. The review revealed significant and potentially long-term health implications affecting various body systems and psychological well-being following exposure to an explosion. An awareness of the short- and long-term health effects of explosions is essential in screening for blast injuries, and identifying latent pathologies that could otherwise be overlooked in stressful situations with other visually distracting injuries and, often, mass casualties. Such knowledge would guide responsible medical staff in implementing early appropriate interventions to reduce the burden of long-term sequelae. Effective planning and response strategies would ensure accessibility of appropriate health care resources and evidence-based information in the aftermath of an explosion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-391
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • blast injury
  • explosion
  • human health


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