Also known as a microbe, microorganisms are organisms that are too small to be seen by the human eye. Microorganisms are all around you and in your body. The vast majority pose no threat to plants, humans or animals but work alongside humans to aid decay, decomposition and help you digest food. It wasn’t until Anton von Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope that people knew they existed.
The only environments where microorganisms are controlled or eliminated are artificially controlled environments that are carefully protected to prevent outside microbes from entering the sterile environment.
Contaminants can flourish in unregulated or regular environments. Warmer environmental temperature encourages microbial growth such as spores, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Humans are the primary source of cleanroom contamination. We give off 5,000,0000 particles from walking 2 mph and 100,000 particles from standing.
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Types of microorganisms found in cleanrooms
This is a unicellular life form that exists on all the earth’s environments. It is the most popular microorganism and a member of the prokaryotes family. Classes of bacteria include gram negative with a thin layer and gram-positive with a thick cell wall. This is the only microorganism that lives in the human body without causing harm.
Fungi are microbes similar to plants. They grow as yeasts (single cells) growth (multicellular structures) or (moulds) filamentous structures. They have defined organelles and nucleus. Once they achieve a certain level of growth, the fungi colonies are visible to the human eye. The widespread use includes the brewery and the food processing industries.
They consist of a protein coat and nucleic acid. They are considered by many as non-living organisms. Viruses enter the human cell within the human anatomy and hijack the cells and replicate. A popular case was the meningitis outbreak of 2012 from the New England Compounding Pharmacy. 64 people and 800 were sickened in the incident.
These are microorganisms that share properties of fungi. Types of mould include slime moulds that can gather to operate as a single organism. A second type is pathogenic moulds that cause crop failure by infecting plants.
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Identifying the sources of contamination in cleanrooms
Not all microorganisms are harmful but minimising the introduction of contaminants into the cleanroom is crucial to its processes and maintaining the required ISO classification. Some microorganisms in a manufacturing environment could produce toxins or cause infectious disease. For pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other critical environments, a manufacturing process that controls viable and non-viable contamination is important.
Microorganisms are resilient and spread easily. In a cleanroom, they are directly transferred across surfaces, when personnel touch the surface or when an object is contaminated. The indirect transfer is through air distribution.
Humans are the major sources of contamination in a cleanroom. Microorganisms are present in food, water, plants, animals, deep sea, beverages, skin and hair. Almost 80-90% of microbial flora in a cleanroom is generated from humans. Other sources include the environment and process-related activity within the cleanroom.
A contaminated environment could lead to regulatory observations, product recalls, hefty fines and consumer deaths. Cleanroom design from Total Clean Air factors material transfer, cleanroom gowning, material/personnel flow, sanitization, disinfection and aseptic technique. These are all features that help to ensure consumer safety and control the cleanroom environment.
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A few strategies to minimise microbial contamination within the cleanroom
Enforce a strict dress code to prevent staff from tracking contaminants in and out of the cleanroom. Total Clean Air provides gowning apparel and jumpsuits that can be worn over their daily clothes. Additional protective apparel for cleanroom personnel include gloves, masks, hoods, beard cover, hair cover, shoe cover and more.
Total Clean Air provides HEPA filters that can filter particles and microorganisms 0.3 microns in size. Additional filtrations systems could be used to remove particles from liquids and gases to make filtration more effective.
Cleanrooms should be designed in a manner that allows easy passage of air over surfaces. Features used to prevent the buildup of contaminants and reduce air turbulence in the cleanroom include covered floors, lighting and vents and specialised furniture.
Contact us today
Total Clean Air is a leading UK brand that designs, builds and installs controlled environments. We provide cleanroom equipment, consumables and apparel that minimise the spread or introduction of microorganism in the cleanroom. We can also advise you on the best strategies for limiting contaminants in your cleanroom.