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Reported incidence of injuries caused by street glass among urban children in Philadelphia
  1. Martin A Makary
  1. Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, and Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Martin A Makary, MD, MPH, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA (e-mail: MMakary{at}


Objectives—First, to assess the incidence and cause of lacerations sustained by urban children from walking outdoors as well as to identify possible means of prevention. Second, to identify the type of health care sought after injury and to measure the extent of glass litter on the streets.

Setting—Children (18 years of age or younger) in the Ludlow community of Philadelphia.

Methods—A retrospective analysis of lacerations sustained while walking outdoors. A personal survey was conducted with 241 children on a door to door basis. Glass litter was measured by visual inspection of individual streets.

Results—Of 241 children, 83 (34%) had been cut at least once while walking outdoors. Of the 83, 62 were not wearing footwear at the time of injury. The majority of lacerations (86%) were caused by broken glass. Thirty nine of the 83 children received professional medical care for the laceration. Broken glass was estimated to be present on 30% of the outdoor walking area.

Conclusions—Broken glass is a significant health problem on littered urban streets. Preventive measures such as street cleaning, footwear education, and glass recycling incentives are needed to address this public health hazard.

  • glass
  • urban children
  • cuts
  • lacerations

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