Contaminate vs contaminant

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Contaminate means to render something impure, to introduce a polluting substance or expose to corruption or infection. Contaminate is a transitive verb which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are contaminates, contaminated, contaminating. The adjective form is contaminative, the noun forms are contaminator and contamination. Contaminate comes from the Latin contaminatus, the past participle of contaminare meaning to defile.

A contaminant is a substance that renders something impure, polluted, infected or corrupted. Contaminant is a noun which first appears in 1934, the use of the word of contaminant has risen steadily ever since. Contaminants may be biological, chemical, physical or radiological. Heavy metals and radioactive contaminants are particularly worrisome for human health, as are bacteria contaminants.


“We feel that the drill potentially could contaminate the water supply and everyone supplied by it should be aware of this.” (The Belfast Telegraph)

Hogs also contaminate water sources in rivers and creeks, which can lead to contamination of water or food for humans, Mayer said. (The Herald)

Additionally, if the lines from the keg to the tap are not clean, that can really contaminate the flavor of your beer. (The Dallas Observer)

The state health department has been testing water wells in Dodge City after previous testing found a toxic contaminant. (The Topeka Capital-Journal)

The city of Flagstaff is sending out notices to municipal water customers in the neighborhood northwest of Sinagua Middle School after drinking water at one monitoring location exceeded maximum contaminant levels for haloacetic acids. (The Arizona Daily Sun)

High levels of radioactive contaminants have been found in coal ash in major coal-producing regions of the United States, raising concern about the dangers of this unregulated waste, researchers said Wednesday. (The Japan Times)