NIOSH manual tells how to select TB respirators

CDC, OSHA provide guidelines

Setting up a tuberculosis prevention program has become a bit easier with the release of a manual by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Washington, DC.

The manual, TB Respiratory Protection Program in Health Care Facilities, incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and current U.S. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) respiratory protection standards. (OSHA has proposed a controversial TB standard, which is due to be released in final form this spring.) The manual also provides specific information on how to select a respirator for use in a health care setting.

"This gives a little more information on the advantages and disadvantages of the respirators that are out there so you can make a better-informed decision," says Nancy Bollinger, deputy director of the health effects laboratory division at NIOSH in Morgantown, WV.

Bollinger notes that in the past, hospitals often relied on surgical masks rather than respirators to protect against TB transmission. "The CDC guidelines and resurgence of TB in the United States led to an increased reliance on respirators for protection against TB," she says.

[Editor’s note: A free copy of the manual is available from the NIOSH Web site, www.cdc.gov/niosh, or by calling (800) 356-4674 and requesting publication 99-143.]