Did You Know? There’s More to Dahlgren Decon than Just Peracetic Acid

Part A is 10,000x more effective than Dawn dish soap.  

Peracetic Acid (PAA) is the main oxidizing agent in Dahlgren Decon that chemically neutralizes toxic chemicals and destroys biological agents and pathogens. But there is more chemistry behind the effectiveness of Dahlgren Decon than just PAA. In fact, Part A of Dahlgren Decon, also known as Dahlgren Surface Clean, was specifically formulated by the US Navy to be the most effective decontamination soap available.

A key challenge in decontamination is the removal of oily, viscous, and insoluble materials.  These materials do not mix with water and require a huge volume of water and scrubbing to remove through sheer force.  The traditional solution was to add a surfactant (soap) to the mix, which lowers the surface tension of water and helps the water and the material to mix.  This mixing of soap, water, and contaminant is called an emulsion.

An example of an emulsion is Italian salad dressing.  Just like Italian dressing, an emulsion with oily contamination will only stay blended for a short period of time before the oil, water, and any other contaminant begin to separate out.  This can occur very rapidly and can lead to a small area of contamination being spread out in a thin layer across the entire surface area of a person or object.

The solution to this problem lies in microemulsions like Part A of Dahlgren Decon.  A microemulsion is made using advanced surfactants, which reduce the surface tension of water over 10,000x more than commercial dish or laundry soap.   

Multiple types of surfactants with different properties are used so that the microemulsion can accept both oil and water-based contaminants into the same solution, as well as quickly dissolve and trap volatile liquids and powder solids.  The microemulsion acts like a liquid sponge, absorbing and holding large amounts of contamination.  And most importantly, unlike a standard emulsion, microemulsions are stable and the contamination will stay in solution for an extended period until it can be easily rinsed or wiped away.

The microemulsion surfactant that is Part A of Dahlgren Decon is pH neutral and safe for use on skin.   

It was originally developed for removal of some of the toughest challenges: Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents.  However, it excels at physical removal of a broad range of hazardous materials from a wide variety of surfaces.  Uses include washing off oily contamination such as pesticides or petroleum from spills.

Because it works well on both oil and water-based substances it can be used on both types of OC spray and riot control chemicals.  It will wet, dissolve and remove fentanyl and its analogues while keeping the pH neutral, which is important to avoid aerosolizing or converting the fentanyl into a more dangerous form.  The Part A microemulsion also has use in post-fire decontamination to help remove potentially cancer-causing materials.