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The removing of chemical, biological, or radiological contamination from, or the neutralizing of it on, a person, object, or area.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the removal (destruction, neutralization) of toxic chemical agents from contaminated weapons, combat materiel, terrain, clothing, and food supplies; it is one of the measures for eliminating the aftereffects of an enemy chemical attack.

Decontamination of contaminated weapons and combat and other materiel is implemented by various mechanical methods using decontaminating solutions and solvents or by vaporizing the toxic chemical agents using hot gases. Terrain is decontaminated with the aid of decontamination machines (the irrigating of the terrain with decontaminating solutions or the spreading of friable decontaminating agents) or in certain cases by removing the upper layer of soil (or snow) with the aid of road machines, by isolating the contaminated surface of the terrain by covering it over with uncontaminated earth (or snow), or by laying wooden planks or other kinds of flooring. In the case of hard surfaces (asphalt, concrete) toxic chemical agents are removed by a stream of water from irrigating or fire-fighting machinery. Decontamination of outer clothing and underwear is carried out by boiling them in water or aqueous soda solutions or by treating them with decontaminating solutions. Contaminated water is decontaminated by chlorination, filtration through special substances, or boiling. Food supplies and forage heavily contaminated (saturated) with toxic chemical agents are destroyed. Products in hermetically sealed metal cans or glass bottles are decontaminated by boiling in a soda solution or by wiping them with decontaminating solutions or solvents; wooden containers are treated by airing them. The suitability for use of various foodstuffs is determined by chemical analysis. Ventilation (drafts) is used to decontaminate premises contaminated with gases or vapors from toxic chemical agents.




removal of radioactive materials from uniforms (clothing), weapons, materiel, transportation, food supplies, terrain, and other objects; one of the measures for eliminating the effects of enemy use of nuclear weaponry. Decontamination may be either partial or complete.

Partial decontamination is implemented when the combat situation requires the immediate use (expenditure) of the contaminated weaponry or materiel, in order to decrease the extent of its contamination to some degree. Materiel and transportation equipment are decontaminated with special machines and instruments using scouring solutions or water; uniforms (clothing) are decontaminated by various mechanical methods; supplies are decontaminated by washing with water or by removing the contaminated layer. Water is decontaminated by using special filtration devices.

Complete decontamination by special equipment makes it possible to decrease the contamination to such a level that external irradiation and the probability of illness resulting from contact of radioactive materials with the skin or in the body become minimal. Completeness of the decontamination is checked by radiometers.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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