Decontamination of radionuclides from skin: an overview

Health Phys. 2013 Aug;105(2):201-7. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318290c5a9.


The accident in Fukushima has emphasized the need to increase the capacity of health protection for exposed workers, first responders, and the general public in a major accident situation with release of radioactivity. Skin contamination is one of the most probable risks following major nuclear or radiological incidents, but this risk also exists and incidents can happen in industry, research laboratories, or in nuclear medicine departments. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the products currently used after skin contamination in order to highlight the needs and ways to improve the medical management of victims. From this review, it can be observed that the current use of these radiological decontamination products is essentially based on empiricism. In addition, some of these products are harsh and irritating, even toxic, possibly damaging the skin barrier. In some emergency situations in which clean water is in short supply, most of the current products cannot be used. Research on the mechanisms of action of decontaminating products is needed to develop a decontamination strategy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Humans
  • Radioactive Hazard Release
  • Radioactive Pollutants / chemistry
  • Radioactive Pollutants / isolation & purification*
  • Radioisotopes / chemistry
  • Radioisotopes / isolation & purification*
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / radiation effects


  • Radioactive Pollutants
  • Radioisotopes