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Chapter 20 : Decontamination and Disinfection
This chapter describes basic strategies for decontaminating surfaces, items, and areas in laboratories to eliminate the possibility of transmission of infectious agents to laboratory workers, the general public, and the environment. Emphasis is placed on the general approaches to decontamination practices. The principles of sterilization and disinfection are discussed and compared in the context of decontamination procedures used in laboratories. The definitions of sterilization, disinfection, antisepsis, decontamination, and sanitization are reviewed in the chapter to avoid misuse and confusion. The definitions and implied capabilities of each inactivation procedure are discussed with an emphasis on achieving and, in some cases, monitoring each stage of microbial reduction. Decontamination in the microbiology laboratory requires great care. It may entail disinfection of work surfaces or decontamination of equipment so that it is safe to handle. CD gas sterilization can be used for decontamination of laboratory rooms, equipment, glove boxes, and incubators. Recommendations for the decontamination of items and areas contaminated with Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores are based on two historical sources. The first is the industrial setting, where animal hides and hairs are processed. The second is the laboratory setting, where biological safety protocols have been developed to address decontamination of high concentrations of anthrax spores after spills in the laboratory. Anthrax is unique among the agents of bioterrorism because the etiologic agent is a bacterial spore that is more resistant than other pathogens. Appropriate materials and methods for decontamination, disinfection, and sterilization are required for the safe conduct of work with biohazardous agents.