7 Ways to Reduce Contamination in Cleanrooms

Reduce Contamination in Cleanrooms

A cleanroom bears its name for a reason: its very purpose is to stay sanitary and free of contaminants to maintain a stable work environment. Because employees handle sensitive equipment and components in these critical areas, keeping contaminants at bay is essential to everyday workflow, and ultimately, maintaining profitability.

It may come as no surprise that your employees are the most common source of contamination in your cleanrooms. What you may find surprising, however, are the simple steps you can take to minimize contamination risks. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective tips, below.

1.       Practice Good Hygiene

Practice Good Hygiene
Practice Good Hygiene

Humans naturally produce particles. Our bodies shed contaminants, producing detritus like skin flakes and particles from hair products, cosmetics, and lotions. Thus, while good hygiene can limit the level of contaminants spread in the cleanroom, it’s also important to consider ways in which certain steps of getting ready might be skipped or altered for the purpose of limiting contaminants. Even perfume and cologne, for instance, can produce contaminants. Since 75-80% of particles found in cleanroom inspections are produced by personnel, it’s a good idea to establish a set of hygiene recommendations for your employees to follow.

 

2.       Be Especially Mindful of Hands

TechniGlove Nitrile Cleanroom Glove
TechniGlove Nitrile Cleanroom Glove

A good portion of cleanliness violations result from bare hands touching surfaces, then transferring these particles onto garments before they enter the cleanroom. To make sure your employees aren’t contaminating anything that will be worn inside your critical environments, consider installing no-touch sensors in the areas where your employees don their cleanroom gear. This will allow them to still wash their hands without picking up any excess particles in the process. Cleanroom Gloves are used in areas that have specific requirements for low contamination risk.

Cleanroom Gloves are disposable gloves designed and clean-processed for contamination control and sterility required work environments including cleanrooms, laboratory and ESD work areas. Minimize sub-micron particle contamination by using gloves designed and manufactured for Cleanrooms.

3.       Don Gear Properly

Don from Top to Bottom
Don from Top to Bottom

The way your employees put their disposable apparel on is just as important as the garments themselves. Because particles are also impacted by the pull of gravity, donning procedures should start at the top. Employees can then work their way down. While each company’s donning procedures may be unique to its specific needs, it’s a good idea to adopt a head-to-toe procedure to prevent contaminants from falling and settling on clean shoe covers.

 

4.       Limit Speaking

Limit Speaking
Limit Speaking

A quiet cleanroom doesn’t just boost productivity; it also has the power to reduce contaminants. Consider the fact that loud speaking of just 100 words (less than a minute of normal conversation!) can produce up to 250 particles of saliva. Of course, there are also some contaminants which may not be avoided, such as coughs and sneezes, which produce roughly 5,000 and 1,000,000 saliva particles, respectively. What’s a simple way to limit contamination from saliva particles in your cleanroom? Wear a face mask designed for Cleanrooms.

5.       Designate “Cleanroom Only” Supplies

Cleanroom Pens
Cleanroom Pens

Taking a pen from outside the cleanroom into the critical work environment might seem harmless, but employees who do so will also unintentionally bring a plethora of contaminants inside with it. Not only should you have cleanroom pens, cleanroom notebooks, and any other tools or instruments designated specifically for cleanroom use only, but you should also make sure they’re compliant with your standards. In other words, the supplies you’re using should also have been produced in a cleanroom environment.

Cleanroom paper packaged in class 10 cleanrooms, for instance, is considered safe for use in class 10 cleanrooms or higher. Cleanroom paper products are impregnated and coated with a polymer. This keeps the paper from generating tiny particulates when written on. Keep your area clean of paper contaminants by using documentation designed just for Cleanrooms.

6.       Take Care When Entering & Exiting

Take Care When Entering & Exiting Cleanrooms
Take Care When Entering & Exiting Cleanrooms

After employees enter and exit cleanrooms, encourage them to take an extra moment to ensure doors are tightly shut. It’s a good practice to make sure the door leading to the changing room is also closed before the cleanroom door is opened to prevent additional particles from making their way into the buffer area. In fact, you can further eliminate the spread of contaminants by separating your gowning room into three distinct areas. One for the non-sterile space directly outside of the room, where employees can keep personal items and clean shoes. The second space is the sterile “dirty” area, where employees prepare for gowning. Finally, the last space should be designated for gowning and taking final preparations before entering.

7.       Move Slowly

Move Slowly in Cleanrooms
Move Slowly in Cleanrooms

The more rapidly movement occurs inside the cleanroom, the more particles will be given off. To combat excess contamination, employees should move slowly and deliberately as they approach work stations. They should also be encouraged to enter and exit cleanrooms slowly.

 

By incorporating these tips into your cleanroom protocol, you might be able to significantly reduce the number of contaminants inside. You can find cleanroom documentation, cleanroom disposable apparel, and more supplies suitable for cleanroom use online through Harmony Business Supplies. If there’s a specific item you need help with, a product specialist will be happy to assist you.

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Cleanroom Gloves VS Exam Gloves?

Cleanroom Gloves vs Exam Gloves

How Are Cleanroom Gloves Different From Exam Gloves?

You might think that all disposable gloves are created equal, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, disposable gloves are available in a variety of options, each made with their own distinct purposes in mind. Since 20% of on-the-job accidents involve employees’ hands, selecting the proper type is essential to safeguarding your teams’ well-being. Additionally, using the incorrect type of glove for your intended application could damage materials and equipment, which is too costly a mistake for any company to make.

Two of the most common places where disposable gloves are used are cleanrooms and environments where medical exams take place, such as doctors’ offices. Here, we’ll discuss the key differences between cleanroom gloves and exam gloves to illustrate the importance of selecting the right type.

Cleanroom Gloves

V-Clean Cleanroom Grade Nitrile Gloves
V-Clean Cleanroom Grade Nitrile Gloves

Work areas that must remain free from contaminants like dust are known as clean environments (AKA Cleanrooms, or Controlled Environments). It’s also critical for these spaces to be free of other pollutants, including chemical vapors, aerosol particles, airborne microbes, and even static electricity. Most often, these special locations are found within companies that manufacture electronic components, as intricate and sensitive parts such as microchips could become compromised if exposed to any contaminants. Other industries in which cleanrooms are used include pharmaceuticals, scientific research, and aerospace semiconductor engineering.

Minimize sub-micron particle contamination by using gloves designed and manufactured for Cleanrooms. Because the need for reducing contaminants is so great, not just any type of disposable glove will do. Cleanroom gloves are designed and processed according to stringent requirements so they’ll be safe for use in controlled sterile environments. Materials like nitrile, for instance, are known to reduce particle transfer and can be used in both wet and dry handling.

Depending on the application, certain cleanrooms have different classes. A Class 1,000 cleanroom, for instance, means that no more than 1,000 particles of .5 mm or larger are permitted per cubic foot of air. This is known as a class ISO 4 cleanroom. The lower the number, the more sensitive the environment.

Disposable cleanroom gloves are available for use in various classes of cleanrooms. Most importantly, when purchasing gloves, it’s a good idea to make sure they were produced in cleanroom environments; otherwise, they could contain contaminants. The V-Clean cleanroom nitrile gloves carried by Harmony Business Supplies, for instance, were produced at ISO 5 levels and are thus considered safe for use in class 1,000 to 10,000 cleanrooms. Choosing the most appropriate glove is one of the most important cleanroom consumable decisions.

Exam Gloves

Synguard Medical Exam Grade Nitrile Gloves
Synguard Medical Exam Grade Nitrile Gloves

This variation is typically the first to come to mind when we think of disposable gloves. While they can be made from a variety of materials, the primary purpose they serve is to keep both the medical professional and the patient protected against transfer of bacteria, microbes, or any other substances. At the most basic level, they are simply a barrier to block the wearer’s hands from coming into contact with pathogens.

Because keeping the wearer’s hands safe is of utmost importance, the primary quality to look for in exam gloves should be thickness. Gloves should thus not tear easily, even when friction is applied. Nonetheless, mobility is another factor to consider, so the thickness of the glove should not impede the wearer’s ability to use their hands freely.

Additionally, for the patient’s protection, gloves should be switched out in between every new exam. Due to the frequency of changing them, exam gloves should be cost-effective enough to replace them often, which is why disposable options are the go-to choice among medical facilities worldwide. Gloves used in the medical field should also be easy for the wearer to put on and take off quickly.

Another factor to consider when purchasing exam gloves is the material. Latex, which is a natural material made from rubber, has been a leading choice for many years. Latex gloves are an excellent option for a number of reasons: they boast exceptional comfort and dexterity are a cost-effective choice, are lightly powdered to be put on and off with ease, and are biodegradable.

Nonetheless, some people are allergic or sensitive to latex, and increased exposure to the material can actually make a person more susceptible to developing an allergy to it, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (acaai.org). For this reason, alternate materials such as vinyl and nitrile are becoming increasingly popular in medical settings, and are at least a good idea to have “on hand.” Nitrile is also significantly more puncture resistant than latex, providing extra protection against needles and sharps.

Whether you need cleanroom gloves or exam gloves, Harmony Business Supplies has you covered. With a large selection of options to choose from, their online store features gloves in various materials and sizes to suit every application imaginable. You can place your order now or speak with a knowledgeable product specialist for additional information.