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The role of respiratory protective devices in the control of tuberculosis.
Occup Med: State of the Art Rev 1994 Oct; 9(4):631-657
The function of respiratory protective devices in tuberculosis (TB) control was examined. Surgical masks and respirators were described and the major issues in their application for TB control discussed. Several recommendations and their rationales were reviewed and a view of future directions in this area was provided. In the past few years, the role of respiratory protective devices in preventing the spread of TB has not changed significantly. Recent federal OSHA enforcement policy has mandated the use of HEPA respirators and an associated respiratory program for the protection of workers against TB in selected exposures settings. The effectiveness of any of the devices in the clinical setting to ward off the transmission of TB has not been evaluated. The authors conclude that the role of respiratory protection is secondary to other more general measures in the prevention of the spread of TB. Circumstances will still exist, even when these measures are in place, that will require effective respiratory protective devices for adequate protection against TB. Data indicate that there is often variability in filter efficiency which will continue to be problematic. Many workers indicate the respirators are uncomfortable, but the small physiologic burden of most respirators should be adequately tolerated by most workers. While no respiratory protective device will provide complete protection, the understanding by the worker of this and all aspects of TB control should assist in the effort to prevent TB spread in health care settings.
NIOSH-Author; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Infectious-diseases; Disease-transmission; Health-care-personnel; Risk-factors; Infection-control; Disease-prevention; Bacterial-infections
Issue of Publication
Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews. Tuberculosis in the Workplace
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division