Human Injury Criteria for Underwater Blasts.
Underwater blasts propagate further and injure more readily than equivalent air blasts. Development of effective personal protection and countermeasures, however, requires knowledge of the currently unknown human tolerance to underwater blast. Current guidelines for prevention of underwater blast injury are not based on any organized injury risk assessment, human data or experimental data. The goal of this study was to derive injury risk assessments for underwater blast using well-characterized human underwater blast exposures in the open literature. The human injury dataset was compiled using 34 case reports on underwater blast exposure to 475 personnel, dating as early as 1916. Using severity ratings, computational reconstructions of the blasts, and survival information from a final set of 262 human exposures, injury risk models were developed for both injury severity and risk of fatality as functions of blast impulse and blast peak overpressure. Based on these human data, we found that the 50% risk of fatality from underwater blast occurred at 302±16 kPa-ms impulse. Conservatively, there is a 20% risk of pulmonary injury at a kilometer from a 20 kg charge. From a clinical point of view, this new injury risk model emphasizes the large distances possible for potential pulmonary and gut injuries in water compared with air. This risk value is the first impulse-based fatality risk calculated from human data. The large-scale inconsistency between the blast exposures in the case reports and the guidelines available in the literature prior to this study further underscored the need for this new guideline derived from the unique dataset of actual injuries in this study.
Lance, RM; Capehart, B; Kadro, O; Bass, CR
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