Lab Spotlight

Halting the Spread of Tuberculosis in High-Risk Settings

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that usually affects the lungs, but it can also impact the brain, kidneys, or spine. In most cases, TB is curable—but without proper treatment, it can kill.

When a person with TB coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, TB bacteria are spread in the air, and others who breathe in that contaminated air can become infected. Documented TB transmissions have occurred in crowded hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.

The use of respirators in the healthcare setting signifies an important means to prevent TB transmission. Air-purifying respirators provide a barrier to prevent healthcare workers from inhaling Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Proper use of quality respirators is key to employee protection.

The work at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) helps protect these employees, along with millions of other men and women who rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. One of NPPTL’s primary functions is to test and approve respirators used in American workplaces to ensure a consistent level of standard filter efficiency.

NIOSH-certified powered air-purifying respirators are being used by many healthcare facilities since fit-testing is not required and employees find them more comfortable than filtering face-piece respirators.

Lab Spotlight