Decontamination (sometimes abbreviated as decon, dcon, or decontam) is the process of cleansing an object or substance to remove contaminants such as micro-organisms or hazardous materials, including chemicals, radioactive substances, and infectious diseases.

The purpose of decontamination is to prevent the spread of micro-organisms and other noxious contaminants[1] that may threaten the health of human beings or animals, or damage the environment.

Decontamination is most commonly used in medical environments, including dentistry, surgery and veterinary science, in the process of food preparation, in environmental science,[2] and in forensic science.[3]


Methods of decontamination include:[4]

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

See also


  1. Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust: Decontamination Policy April 2012. Accessed 16 August 2013
  2. "Water Decontamination", in McGraw Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2004, p 372
  3. 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.
  4. Health & Safety Executive: Methods of decontamination. Accessed 16 August 2013
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