White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Upper-Room Ultraviolet Light and Negative Air Ionization to Prevent Tuberculosis Transmission

Escombe, AR, Moore, DAJ, Gilman, RH, Navincopa, M, Ticona, E, Mitchell, B, Noakes, CJ, Martinez, C, Sheen, P, Ramirez, R, Quino, W, Gonzalez, A, Friedland, JS and Evans, CA (2009) Upper-Room Ultraviolet Light and Negative Air Ionization to Prevent Tuberculosis Transmission. PLoS Medicine, 6 (3). ISSN 1549-1277


Download (571Kb)


Background Institutional tuberculosis (TB) transmission is an important public health problem highlighted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the emergence of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB. Effective TB infection control measures are urgently needed. We evaluated the efficacy of upper-room ultraviolet (UV) lights and negative air ionization for preventing airborne TB transmission using a guinea pig air-sampling model to measure the TB infectiousness of ward air. Methods and Findings For 535 consecutive days, exhaust air from an HIV-TB ward in Lima, Perú, was passed through three guinea pig air-sampling enclosures each housing approximately 150 guinea pigs, using a 2-d cycle. On UV-off days, ward air passed in parallel through a control animal enclosure and a similar enclosure containing negative ionizers. On UV-on days, UV lights and mixing fans were turned on in the ward, and a third animal enclosure alone received ward air. TB infection in guinea pigs was defined by monthly tuberculin skin tests. All guinea pigs underwent autopsy to test for TB disease, defined by characteristic autopsy changes or by the culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from organs. 35% (106/304) of guinea pigs in the control group developed TB infection, and this was reduced to 14% (43/303) by ionizers, and to 9.5% (29/307) by UV lights (both p < 0.0001 compared with the control group). TB disease was confirmed in 8.6% (26/304) of control group animals, and this was reduced to 4.3% (13/303) by ionizers, and to 3.6% (11/307) by UV lights (both p < 0.03 compared with the control group). Time-to-event analysis demonstrated that TB infection was prevented by ionizers (log-rank 27; p < 0.0001) and by UV lights (log-rank 46; p < 0.0001). Time-to-event analysis also demonstrated that TB disease was prevented by ionizers (log-rank 3.7; p = 0.055) and by UV lights (log-rank 5.4; p = 0.02). An alternative analysis using an airborne infection model demonstrated that ionizers prevented 60% of TB infection and 51% of TB disease, and that UV lights prevented 70% of TB infection and 54% of TB disease. In all analysis strategies, UV lights tended to be more protective than ionizers. Conclusions Upper-room UV lights and negative air ionization each prevented most airborne TB transmission detectable by guinea pig air sampling. Provided there is adequate mixing of room air, upper-room UV light is an effective, low-cost intervention for use in TB infection control in high-risk clinical settings.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2009 Escombe et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Civil Engineering (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2011 10:53
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2014 01:24
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000043
Status: Published
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000043
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/42890

Actions (repository staff only: login required)