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Med Clin North Am. 1993 Nov;77(6):1315-34.

Environmental control of tuberculosis.

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Division of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Hospital, Massachusetts.


The premise of this article is that it is possible to reduce but not eliminate the risk of TB infection in many institutional settings through environmental interventions--as supplements to conventional public health TB control efforts. Of the environmental means available to reduce the concentration of infectious droplet nuclei, ventilation, isolation strategies, and personal respirators have received the most attention, but each has inherent limitations. Ventilation and other air-moving strategies (i.e., fan-filter and fan-UV room units) are limited by the large volume of air that must be moved to dilute and remove already dilute droplet nuclei. Isolation assumes that potential transmitters are suspected, whereas negative pressure in isolation rooms is difficult to achieve and maintain in many hospitals. The use of well-designed small enclosures for sputum induction and other high-risk procedures, however, should provide highly effective source control. Personal respirators have a limited protective role because they cannot be worn by all workers at all times, and cannot reasonably be issued to other patients and visitors. Germicidal UV irradiation of upper room air is widely misunderstood, but offers practical air disinfection that can be safely and efficiently deployed in a variety of high-risk environments. Although there are theoretical and experimental bases for these recommendations, there are no clinical field trials preventing TB using any of the available environmental interventions, primarily because of the highly variable nature of TB transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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