A cleanroom is a controlled environment with very low levels of airborne particulates. They are typically used for the manufacturing of food products, pharmaceuticals, computer components and machine parts. Because cleanrooms require keeping pollutants at a minimum, cleanroom standards can serve as guide for other ultra-clean environments. Laboratories, for instance, can use cleanroom standards as a guide to lowering airborne contaminants.
Cleanroom contamination can damage products, disrupt procedures and, in turn, affect potential profits. In a laboratory contamination can impact analysis, specimens, research and, in some cases, a lab’s bottom line. Air filtration, air flow rates and direction, pressurization, temperature and humidity are vital to a cleanroom’s or laboratory’s success.
Cleanrooms adhere to standards set by the International Standards Organization, or ISO, an independent, non-governmental global body founded in 1947. ISO standards are rated according to how much particulate of specific sizes exist per cubic meter. A critical factor in measuring particulates is the air change rate (ACR), which refers to the number of times outside air replaces existing volume in an area per hour. Determining the ACR requires accounting for such factors as personnel, equipment and garbing.
Similarly, contaminants come from a number of sources in a laboratory, including the facility itself (air conditioning debris, paint, construction materials); staff (skin, spittle, hair, sweat and cosmetics); tools (friction particles, lubricants, dusters); and fluids (cleaning products, deionized water, bacteria, moisture, floating particulates).
Some of the key factors that go into achieving the highest cleanroom standards include:
- HEPA filters: To qualify as a HEPA filter by U.S. government standards, a filter must remove 99.97% of particles (0.3 microns in diameter or larger) from the air.
- Architecture: For a lab to mimic a cleanroom’s air quality standards, a room’s architecture should push airflow in a uniform velocity in parallel lines. This is called laminar airflow.
- Contamination control: Cleaning procedures vary from cleanroom to cleanroom – and also from lab to lab. The laboratory’s function will help determine cleaning products, procedures and frequency.
- Filtration: In addition to HEPA filters, cleanrooms use multiple forms of filtration that help remove particles from gases and liquids.
- Clothing: Garments are determined by a facility’s purpose, although gloves, masks, smocks, jumpsuits and head covers are frequently used to keep personnel safe and the room clean.
IQAir specializes in the highest performance air purification technology. IQAir’s filtration technologies work in conjunction with other safety measures, such as fume hoods and respiratory protective measures, to supplement a lab’s or cleanroom’s existing system. IQAir’s filters can also supplement a laboratory’s existing laminar airflow system for optimal cleanroom filtration.
IQAir specialists are available for consultations regarding air quality needs in laboratories and cleanrooms. They can develop and customize solutions for specific needs. To learn more about IQAir’s systems for labs and cleanrooms, click here to download our free e-book, “The facts about Air Quality in Laboratories.”