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Personal protective equipment (PPE) as a means to protect human beings from hazardous materials has been an evolving science throughout history. Discussion on PPE requires a brief historical review of biological, chemical, and nuclear warfare. In responding to disasters, healthcare providers may be exposed to toxic and infectious agents. Therefore, knowledge of PPE and why such equipment would be necessary is important. The selection of PPE is challenging and is based on several factors: the environment in which the hazardous agent is deployed, the concentration of the agent, the type of threat encountered, and the duration of an individual's exposure to the hazardous agent. Although research and development to further improve technologies and capabilities is required if healthcare personnel are to protect themselves and the healthcare infrastructure, it is also equally important that all healthcare personnel be trained and educated on the use of PPE and decontamination techniques.
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