Beverage Container Deposits Reduce Glass-Related Lacerations

Following enactment of legislation promoting recycling of beverage containers in Massachusetts, the incidence of glass-related sutured lacerations presenting to our emergency ward appears to have decreased dramatically, dropping by 60 percent...By providing incentives for the return of empty containers, this conservation policy has apparently been beneficial to urban children by reducing their exposure to broken glass in the environment. [1]

A group of doctors at Children's Hospital in Boston studied the effect of legislation requiring deposits for beverage containers on the incidence of lacerations in urban children. Records of emergency room visits for lacerations and fractures were reviewed for three years prior to implementation of the legislation (1980-82) and the immediate post-legislation period (1983). A case-control study was conducted of children 18 years of age or younger who presented to the Emergency Service of Children's Hospital, Boston, for the treatment of lacerations

The doctors wrote, "...lacerations and abrasions account for up to one-half of all childhood non-intentional injuries. Various environmental agents, both natural and man-made, contribute to this type of injury. One of the most common of these is broken glass....The purpose of the present study was to investigate the impact of this legislation on visits of children to our emergency ward."

A total of 2,032 lacerations and 695 fractures were treated during the four time periods considered. Information regarding the etiology of the laceration was available from 98.8 percent of all charts...Broken bottles were implicated in the majority (83 percent) of cases citing a specific outdoor source."

The incidence of total sutured lacerations did not change substantially after the legislation, but glass-related lacerations fell by 60 percent, due to a reduced incidence in lacerations occurring outside of the home.

Sources

[1] M. Douglas Baker, MD, Sally E. Moore, and Paul H. Wise, MD, PhD, MPH, "The Impact of 'Bottle Bill' Legislation on the Incidence of Lacerations in Childhood", American Journal of Public Health , October 1986.


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