Contamination Control

The prevention of environmental cross-contamination is of utmost importance. When necessary, a decontamination chamber should be constructed using similar materials and methods immediately beyond the containment area. Decontamination chambers are designed to provide a clean environment for professionals and workers to sanitize equipment and items and to remove their personal protective equipment (PPE). Decontamination chambers should serve as a pathway between the contaminated areas and unaffected areas.

Isolation barriers can restrict portions of a room, entire rooms, or multiple rooms. Isolation barriers can also be used to delineate staging areas for equipment, decontamination chambers, or any other zones with specific roles in the remediation process.

Removal of Contaminated Structural Materials

Underlying materials are considered to be all materials attached to the structure, including but not limited to: subfloors, plywood floor coverings, trim pieces, doors, interior and exterior walls; framed concrete block and IBF; wall coverings, ceilings, attached fixtures, floor or ceiling vents, and roof supports. Contaminated underlying material may be porous in nature, allowing fluids to be absorbed into the material; thus, the usual cleaning methods and the use of an antimicrobial (biocide) may not completely remediate the material. All contaminated surface areas should be cleaned before the removal of materials to minimize risks associated with airborne contaminants and physical cross-contamination. As appropriate, materials should then be cut into a suitable size to fit into biohazard containers. Material removal should extend at least 6 inches (15 cm) beyond visible contamination to ensure complete removal.

Hidden Contamination

Some affected areas, like cracks and gaps, may be imperceptible by visual inspection. Special techniques may be required to detect blood and fluids, with the understanding that not all fluids can be identified with simple methods. The professionals and workers should continue to remove materials until there is no visible evidence of contamination. Fluid contamination can spread from one area to another through hidden pathways, creating zones of concealed contamination. Not only do hidden areas of contamination pose challenges, but also the migration of fluids into adjacent areas can go unnoticed. This can also be problematic when an incident has occurred on an upper-level floor and fluids have seeped downward into lower levels.

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