To help reduce the risk of exposures to tuberculosis (TB), hospitals should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for air change rates in airborne infection isolation rooms and anterooms, according to a report published by NIOSH’s Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program last week. The report summarizes NIOSH’s evaluation of a hospital in which latent TB infections had been identified among staff. The employer requested the HHE, citing concerns about the facility’s ventilation controls.
During the evaluation, NIOSH staff measured ventilation airflow and reviewed ventilation test and balance reports for the airborne infection isolation rooms and anterooms. The ventilation system proved adequate for reducing the risk of exposure to TB for most of these rooms, though NIOSH did find two rooms that were below CDC’s recommendation of six air changes per hour for existing facilities. In addition to following CDC guidelines for proper ventilation, NIOSH also recommended that the hospital consider placing portable air cleaners with high efficiency particulate air filtration and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in patient rooms to achieve good air mixing.
Read more in the HHE report. Other NIOSH HHE reports are available on the agency’s website.