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The use of physical, chemical, or other means to remove, inactivate, or destroy harmful microorganisms or poisonous or radioactive chemicals from persons, spaces, surfaces, or objects. Decontamination differs from sterilization. It renders a person or object mostly rather than completely free of contaminants. Decontamination of people exposed to hazardous materials should be performed in an orderly fashion. Tools and outer gloves should be removed first; surface contaminants should next be blown or washed away; any breathing apparatus, protective equipment, and clothing should then be removed, followed by careful washing and drying of the skin. Finally, the exposed person should be medically monitored until he or she is judged to be safe.

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