Decontaminate! A Perspective For First Responders

Issue 2 and Volume 138.

Decontaminate! A Perspective For First Responders FEATURES HAZARDOUS MATERIALS Photos by Steven P. Maslansky Contamination avoidance is the best posture to adopt at a hazardous material (hazmat) incident. However, in many instances personnel and equipment are inadvertently or unavoidably contaminated in a number of ways, including: Exposure to vapors, gases, mists or particulates in the air; Splashing by materials during size-up/investigation, suppression or containment; Walking or driving through liquids, powders, or contaminated soil or vegetation; Utilizing contaminated instruments or equipment; Skin contact with contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) or clothing; Transporting contaminated personnel. Recently, a suburban New York fire department responded to a transformer explosion and fire. Responding personnel and apparatus were contaminated by the subsequent spill and smoke, which contained PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and their combustion products of dioxin and di-benzo furans. Unknown hazards, as well as unclear protocols and decontamination procedures resulted in having to dispose of affected…

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