Tuberculosis, Respiratory Protection

Female Wearing respirator

Respiratory Protection

A TB infection control program should be based on the following three levels of a hierarchy of controls:

  1. Administrative controls, which reduce risk of exposure;
  2. Environmental controls, which prevent spread and reduce concentration of droplet nuclei; and
  3. Respiratory-protection, which further reduce risk of exposure in special areas and circumstances.

Respiratory-protection consists of the use of personal protective equipment in situations that pose a high risk for exposure to TB disease. The use of respiratory protection can further reduce the risk of healthcare workers and other individuals being exposed to infectious TB droplet nuclei expelled into the air. The minimum level of respiratory protection acceptable for TB is a filtering face piece respirator selected from those approved by NIOSH under Title 42 CFR, Part 84. The following references provide useful information on establishing a respiratory protection program and choosing appropriate respirators.

Respirator Information
NIOSH Topic Page about respirators, including news, user notices, and respirator selection and maintenance and more.

NIOSH-Approved Disposable Particulate Respirators (Filtering Facepieces)
A listing of NIOSH-approved disposable particulate respirators that health care workers can use to help protect themselves from diseases potentially spread through the air, such as SARS or Tuberculosis.

Protect Yourself Against Tuberculosis – A Respiratory Protection Guide for Health Care Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-102 (1995)
A booklet written to answer questions about respirator use in the health care industry. Serves as a quick reference for health care workers employed in a variety of settings and with varied educational backgrounds.

TB Respiratory Protection Program in Health Care Facilities – Administrator’s Guide
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-143 (1999)
A manual designed to serve as a practical guide for those individuals responsible for initiating and running a TB respiratory protection program in health care facilities.