Nursing diagnosis – CONTAMINATION



Exposure to environmental contaminants in doses sufficient to cause

adverse health effects


(These are dependent on the causative agent. Agents cause a variety

of individual organ responses as well as systemic responses.)

• Pesticides: Have dermatological, GI, neurological, pulmonary, and

renal effects. Categories include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides,
antimicrobials, and rodenticides.

• Chemicals: Have dermatological, immunological, neurological, pul-

monary, and renal effects. Categories include petroleum-based agents,
anticholinesterases, Type I agents act on proximal tracheobronchial
tract, Type II agents act on aveoli and produce systemic effects.

• Biologicals: Have dermatological, GI, neurological, pulmonary, and

renal effects.

• Radiation: Have dermatological, GI, neurological, pulmonary, and

renal effects. Categories include internal such as exposure through
ingestion of radioactive material or external such as direct contact
with radiological material.

• Pollution: Have dermatological and pulmonary effects. Categories

include trash, raw sewage, industrial waste.


• External: Chemical contamination of food or water, exposure to

bioterrorism, radiation, and exposure to areas of contamination.

• Internal: Extremes of age, nutritional factors, preexisting disease

states, pregnancy, previous exposure.

ASSESSMENT FOCUS    (Refer  to  comprehensive  assessment  parameters.)

• Populations

• Risk management


The patient/community will

• Have minimized health effects associated with contamination.

• Utilize health surveillance data system to monitor for contamina-

tion incidents.

• Utilize disaster plan to evacuate and triage affected members.

• Minimize exposure to contaminants.


Anxiety Level; Community Health Status; Fear Level


Determine: Triage, stabilize, transport, and treat affected community

members. Accurate triage and early treatment provide the best

chance of survival to affected persons.

Monitor individuals for therapeutic effects, side effects, and com-

pliance with postexposure drug therapy. Drug therapy may extend

over a long period of time and will require monitoring for compli-

ance as well as therapeutic and side effects.

Perform: Help individuals cope with contamination incident; use

groups that have survived terrorist attacks as useful resource for vic-

tims to aid in support; those with experience can share reactions

and useful coping mechanisms.

Help individuals deal with feelings of fear, vulnerability, and grief

to minimize risk of traumatic stress.

Decontaminate persons, clothing, and equipment using approved

procedure. Victims may first require decontamination before entering

health facility to receive care in order to prevent the spread of con-


Use appropriate isolation precautions, including universal,

airborne, droplet, and contact isolation. Proper use of isolation pre-

cautions prevents cross-contamination.

Inform: Provide accurate information on risks involved, preventive

measures, and use of antibiotics and vaccines to enhance the use of

protective measures.

Attend: Encourage individuals to talk to others about their fears.

Interventions aimed at supporting an individual’s coping can help

the person deal with feelings of fear, helplessness, and loss of

control that are normal reactions in a crisis situation.

Manage: Collaborate with other agencies (local health department,

emergency medical services, state and federal agencies). Communica-

tion and collaboration among agencies increase ability to handle

crises efficiently and correctly.


Anxiety Reduction; Crisis Intervention; Environmental Management;

Infection Control; Health Education; Triage


Chung, S., & Shannon, M. (2005). Hospital planning for acts of terrorism

and other public health emergencies involving children. Archives of Disease
in Childhood, 90(12), 1300–1307.

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