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:: Section 4 of 10

Health Effects of Bioaerosols

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Protection varies depending on the location and type of bioaersol present. Personal protection refers to protective measures used for individuals. Collective protection refers to efforts made on a larger scale, such as a building.

Respirators are often used for personal protection. Simple respirators are often sufficient in many scenarios to prevent transmission, but a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) might be necessary in the instance of extreme cases such as biological warfare.

Other personal protection includes gloves, hand-washing, and changing clothes following exposure. In the event of an infection, antibiotics are useful against pathogenic bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but vaccinations exist for some viruses though it must be administered prior to exposure. People with allergies and asthma can use medications but may have to be more careful during certain seasonal times of the year.

Collective protection targets a much wider audience. For instance, in buildings such as hospitals where nosocomial infections are common, UV units can be set up in the central air system or in the room to inactivate bioaerosols and prevent their growth. Other methods to prevent distribution through the central air system include filtration and electrostatic precipitators (ESP) .


Figure 8: Varying degrees of respirator protection.11 The top left represents a simple particulate respirator, designed only for low-hazard situations. The top right portrays a gas mask respirator. The bottom right portrays a SCBA and the tank which provides its clean air supply. The bottom left portrays a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator. See more about these different levels of protection.

11CDC National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory