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Decontamination of personal protective equipment requires knowledge of the contaminant, methods of detection for contamination, and use of effective materials and procedures for decontamination. Contamination can be of a surface, matrix, or pore type. Each must be handled differently to achieve effective decontamination. Tests for contamination range from simple visual methods to destructive, complex, and very expensive analytical protocols. Methods of decontamination can be either physical or chemical. In general, physical methods can be effective for surface contaminants that can be mechanically dislodged or dissolved. Heating and hot air washing can be effective for volatiles as surface and matrix contaminants. Chemical methods are usually effective for a limited number of surface contaminants. Pore contaminants are extremely difficult to decontaminate by any nondestructive method. The best approach to decontamination is to minimize the need to perform it. This is accomplished by minimizing workers and equipment in hazardous areas and avoiding the use of porous equipment and materials.
Contamination, decontamination, matrix contamination, surface contamination, pore contamination, personal protective equipment
President, S.Z. Mansdorf & Associates, Inc., Cuyahoga Falls, OH