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Decontamination (sometimes abbreviated as decon, dcon, or decontam) is the process of removing contaminants on an object or area, including chemicals, micro-organisms or radioactive substances. This may be achieved by chemical reaction, disinfection or physical removal. It refers to specific action taken to reduce the hazard posed by such contaminants, as opposed to general cleaning.

Decontamination is most commonly used in medical environments, including dentistry, surgery and veterinary science, in the process of food preparation, in environmental science,[1] and in forensic science.[2]


Methods of decontamination include:[3]

A variety of decontaminant methods may be used, including physical processes such as distillation, and chemical washes such as alcohols and detergents.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Water Decontamination", in McGraw Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2004, p 372
  2. ^ Jehaes, Els; Gilissen, Anja; Cassiman, Jean-Jacques; Decorte, Ronny (1998). "Evaluation of a decontamination protocol for hair shafts before mtDNA sequencing". Forensic Science International. 94 (1–2): 65–71. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(98)00052-8. PMID 9670485.
  3. ^ Health & Safety Executive: Methods of decontamination. Accessed 16 August 2013