Inhalation equipment hygiene: a belgian national survey

J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. 2009 Sep;22(3):239-43. doi: 10.1089/jamp.2008.0722.


Background: Nebulizers are a potential source of contamination of the respiratory tract. Nevertheless, only a few clear guidelines regarding cleaning and disinfection of nebulizers are available. This survey aims to analyze the common household methods used by cystic fibrosis (CF) patients in Belgium.

Methods: A questionnaire about type of nebulizer, methods, and frequency of cleaning, disinfection, and drying was established by physiotherapists at the Belgian CF centers.

Results and conclusions: The Belgian CF Association sent this questionnaire to all Belgian CF patients. Of the 903 questionnaires distributed, 379 (42%) were returned. Fifty-two, 40 and 8% of patients used a vibrating-mesh nebulizer, jet nebulizer, or ultrasonic device, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of patients cleaned their material and soap was used by 35% of patients. Disinfection was performed by 91% of the patients and was daily performed by 57% of patients. Thermal disinfection (boiling water or sterilizer), a hypochlorite-based solution, or acetic acid solution was used by 44, 29, and 25% of patients, respectively, to disinfect their nebulizers. Thermal disinfection was used by 37 and 53% of patients using a classical or vibrating-mesh nebulizer, respectively. After cleaning or disinfection, 91% of the material was dried. The high percentage of Belgian CF patients disinfecting their nebulizer proves that they seem aware of the hygiene problem. The lack of unanimous guidelines in Belgium at the time of the study perhaps explains the variety of methods used. The arrival of vibrating-mesh nebulizers has led to a change in disinfection methods.

MeSH terms

  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires