Decontamination

Decontamination includes removal of the offending chemical from the person, clothing, and personal protective equipment. Decontamination of the person should include a thorough irrigation of the eyes if they have been subjected to any exposure. The sooner the eyes are irrigated, the less damage that will occur and workers are taught to use eye irrigation stations near their work site in the event of eye exposure. Careful attention should be paid to scalp hair, the axillae, and pubic hair because they are usually ignored in decontamination. Improved decontamination can be carried out if screens or other mechanisms are used to ensure privacy when exposed workers disrobe. Medical personnel are at risk of exposure during decontamination and should use protective measures, including chemical-resistant gloves (2,12).

If the offending chemical is consumed, typically by eating contaminated food in the fields, it may be necessary to decontaminate the gut. Recalling that many agricultural chemicals are based on hydrocarbons, activated char coal may be the best method so that vomiting won't be induced, with its accompanied risk of aspiration into the lungs (12).

It is typically impossible to decontaminate contaminated clothing. If they are laundered, the laundry machines can become contaminated. They are typically placed in plastic bags as chemical waste to be disposed of in compliance with local rules, either by incineration or removal to a hazardous waste depository.

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