The use of respirators in the health care setting is a relatively new but important step forward in the efforts to prevent the transmission of tuberculosis (TB). Air purifying respirators provide a barrier to prevent health care workers from inhaling Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The level of protection a respirator provides is determined by the efficiency of the filter material and how well the facepiece fits or seals to the health care worker's face. A number of studies have shown that surgical masks will not provide adequate protection in filtering out the TB organism. Additionally, surgical masks are not respirators and therefore, are not NIOSH certified and do not satisfy OSHA requirements for respiratory protection. The proper use of respirators represents a significant improvement in employee protection against TB. NIOSH realizes that the use of respirators involves a number of new and perhaps confusing practices for the health care community. This manual is designed to serve as a practical guide for those individuals responsible for initiating and running a TB respiratory protection program in health care facilities. Other areas of the hospital may also require the use of respirators but the program and respirators used may be different. If such a program exists in your facility and has an experienced program administrator, it would be effective to administer the TB respirator program under the existing program and use existing facilities for fit-testing, cleaning, maintenance, storage, etc. This document is not designed to provide information on ventilation systems, negative pressure isolation rooms, and risk assessment methodologies, which should be included in a total TB prevention program. The TB respirator program described in this document does not supplant the respirator protection program necessary for other regulated hazards (e.g., formaldehyde or ethylene oxide) that may be found in health care facilities.
Respiratory-protection; Respirators; Health-care-personnel; Tuberculosis; Respiratory-system-disorders; Health-care-facilities; Personal-protective-equipment; Infection-control; Infectious-diseases; Disease-control; Disease-transmission; Microorganisms; Respiratory-equipment; Respiratory-infections; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Filter-materials; Regulations; Face-masks; Equipment-reliability; Testing-equipment