Waste Management in Medical Cleanrooms

Waste Management in Medical Cleanrooms

Particularly in medical research cleanrooms and pharmaceutical cleanrooms, proper waste management and disposal is important for keeping the environment safe for products and people. Medical cleanroom design should be informed by this system to ensure waste handling protocols are easy to follow and that adequate storage is available for a safe and sterile environment. 

A waste management system in medical cleanrooms covers three areas: waste handling protocols, personal protective equipment, and proper waste storage and disposal.

 

Medical Cleanroom Protocols for Handling Waste

 

To develop protocols for your medical cleanroom waste management system, look at the materials you work with and the waste your facility generates. This includes how you handle and dispose of used cleaning materials, protective equipment that cannot be sanitized, the specific materials you use to conduct your work, and the byproducts of your work: substances or used materials you can’t recycle or put in a landfill. Make sure your cleanroom follows best practices for handling waste, and develop a set of protocols employees understand and can easily follow.

Your waste management protocols will be facilitated by your medical cleanroom design, which should include places to safely store cleaning materials, the chemicals used in your work, and the waste generated by your cleanroom. The protocols and cleanroom design solutions work together to prevent waste from interfering with or contaminating your processes and keep your people and products safe.

 

What Counts as Medical Cleanroom Waste?

 

In order to understand the best ways to handle and dispose of medical cleanroom waste, we must first understand the different types of waste that can be generated in a cleanroom setting. Medical cleanroom hazardous waste materials may be considered toxic, corrosive, ignitable, infectious, biohazardous, or otherwise unsafe to be disposed of in normal ways.

Some waste generated from pharmaceutical cleanrooms is considered a controlled substance. In such situations, the disposal of pharmaceutical waste must take place in compliance with additional DEA regulations.

 

How Much Waste Does Your Medical Cleanroom Generate?

 

Depending on how much waste your facility generates, you may need to follow certain regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA divides waste generators into three main types: 

  • Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) create less than 100 kg of hazardous waste per month
  • Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) create between 100 and 1,000 kg per month
  • Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) creates over 1,000 kg of hazardous waste

Employees should understand the difference between types of waste and be trained to follow protocols for handling, labeling, and disposing of waste responsibly. Whether your facility is a VSQG or a VLQG, your cleanroom design should include an adequate waste management system to keep your employees safe and your project protected. 

 

Personal Protective Equipment

 

To keep employees safe from the sensitive or hazardous products or waste they’re handling, they must be properly equipped. Personal protective equipment like gloves, garments, and masks, not only keeps harmful substances from reaching personnel, but it also works to prevent contamination by employees. Depending on the application and the threat of contamination or harm to the employee, different types of garments and PPE may be required. Additional items could include: pants, coveralls, goggles, boots, ventilated hoods, hairnets, and more.

While some of these supplies can be sanitized and reused, others, like nitrile gloves, for example, must be disposed of after each use to prevent any kind of contamination. Your cleanroom design will likely need to include a gowning room to provide space for employees to properly equip themselves and limit the entrance of contaminants to the cleanroom, storage for garments and PPE, a sanitation area for employees to wash their hands before entering and after leaving the cleanroom, and storage for used equipment needing to be sanitized or destroyed.

 

Medical Cleanroom Design: Waste Storage and Disposal 

 

Containers used to store waste for disposal can be reusable but must be antimicrobial, corrosion-resistant, and able to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized on a regular schedule. Particularly for highly sensitive materials, a puncture-resistant and leak-proof container may be necessary. All waste must be properly separated, bagged, and labeled prior to disposal.

In some cases, medical waste cannot be immediately discarded. Some types of waste must be stored until they can be transported to a facility where they will be recycled, deposited in a landfill or incinerated, or treated until they’re safe to throw away. Proper waste storage is an important part of medical cleanroom design. It needs to be safely contained where it can’t contaminate your work or risk employee safety. The waste receptacles themselves need to be non-particle shedding, corrosion-resistant, and can’t be placed where they could interrupt your cleanroom’s airflow and reduce the effectiveness of air changes and filters. 

Keeping a clean environment in all areas of the cleanroom is important, and that includes how and where you store and dispose of used medical cleanroom supplies and waste. Angstrom Technology’s cleanroom design experts can help build sterile waste management into your cleanroom’s design. We can add you to our regular maintenance schedule to make sure your facility is operating safely and protecting your products and staff. To learn more, give us a call or reach out online.

Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage: How to Keep Cleanroom Garments Clean

Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage: How to Keep Cleanroom Garments Clean

Cleanroom garments are as clean as the places where they are kept. They play a vital role in protecting your cleanroom and employees, so it’s essential to take care of them properly. Let’s dive into the importance of keeping cleanroom garments clean, the difference between reusable and disposable garments, and the cleanroom garment storage you’ll need to always have sterile and fresh items on hand.

Medical Cleanroom Garments

Cleanroom garments are an essential part of medical cleanroom operations. Garments are meant to prevent particles from the wearer from shedding and contaminating the cleanroom. In many medical cleanroom applications, they also protect the wearer from contaminants or harmful substances.

Wearing garments outside of the sterile environment of a cleanroom can attract contaminants. The inside of the garment is also contaminated by particles from the wearer. It’s important to use clean garments each time a worker enters the cleanroom environment to protect sensitive products and processes within the controlled space from these particles. 

Properly cleaning protocols and cleanroom garment storage — whether for reusable garments or new disposable ones —  are important to protect workers and the cleanroom from possible contamination. If garments are contaminated, both the integrity of your work and the safety of your employees are at risk. Particularly in medical cleanrooms, there’s no room for error. Contamination could interfere with test results, corrupt substances, compounds or devices, and potentially endanger patients’ lives.

Reusable vs. Disposable Cleanroom Garments

Reusable cleanroom garments can be cleaned in-house or by a third-party cleaning service. Disposable garments are typically meant to be worn once, though it depends on the product and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

 

Reusable Cleanroom Garments

Reusable garments must be washed with a special process (and extremely hot water) to remove particles and sanitize them safely without compromising or degrading the protective material. If cleaned by a third party, you’ll also need to ensure transport to your facility is sterile and that no contaminants are introduced to your cleanroom from an outside source.

Disposable Cleanroom Garments

Some medical cleanrooms with critical sterilization protocols and stringent requirements opt for disposable garments because it is the safest and most cost-effective option. Disposable garments should be high quality so they are comfortable for workers and won’t break down when in use. Be sure to buy quantities and sizes that are appropriate for all personnel.

Many medical cleanrooms use a combination of both reusable and disposable garments. For example, gowns and face shields may be cleaned, sanitized, and reworn, but disposable nitrile gloves and boot covers are replaced after each use. All garments, whether reusable or disposable, must be kept in appropriate cleanroom garment storage.

 

Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage

Adequate cleanroom garment storage is just as important as how the garments are used. Cleanroom garments are stored in the gowning room for immediate use, though your facility may also have an area to keep overstock items. 

In the gowning room, cleanroom garment storage takes the form of specialized cabinetry, shelves, and containers arranged in a way that facilitates the gowning procedure. 

A proper gowning procedure will ensure your employees suit up properly without contaminating their garments. This process involves cleaning exposed skin before donning garments in the correct order to contain any particles and not contaminate other items or parts of the garment.

Medical cleanroom cabinets and shelves are used to display all garments for easy access as well as store them before use. Garments for use in critical applications may need to be housed in their own HEPA-filtered cabinets or showered with air to dislodge any particles that may have adhered to the material. 

Cleanroom garment storage may also need anti-static safeguards in place to prevent the attraction of particles due to imbalanced charges. All new garment items must be sealed and packaged individually to prevent contamination. 

The purpose of cleanroom garment storage is to make all items accessible to employees while staying isolated from contaminating particles as much as possible. The use of sticky mats, air showers, and benches can help limit contamination, along with the enforcement of the proper gowning procedure. 

All used garments must be placed in separate cleanroom garment storage to ensure no contamination reaches the fresh, untouched garments. Until they can be cleaned and returned to the gowning room or disposed of responsibly, there should be no contact with the areas used for clean garments.

Cleanroom garment storage is essential to protecting your operations and workers. Does your cleanroom have appropriate garment storage space? If not, give us a call. We’re happy to help design and install the solutions that will make your cleanroom cleaner.

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Cleanroom Windows

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Cleanroom Windows

When it comes to medical cleanroom design, you are constrained by the cleanroom classification you must meet. That said, every medical cleanroom has its own unique application and processes that require an accommodating design. One common design feature of a medical cleanroom is cleanroom windows. Can your medical cleanroom have windows? And if so, what types of windows are available that provide the design you’re looking for, while meeting your specific classifications? 

Here’s what you need to know about medical cleanroom windows, from why you might install them to the different types of cleanroom windows that can suit medical cleanliness requirements. 

 

Why Install Windows in Your Medical Cleanroom?

 

Medical cleanrooms, especially those used for pharmaceutical and hospital applications, must meet some of the most stringent cleanroom classifications. It might feel that windows would only detract from the standards you’re trying to meet, but in reality, true cleanroom windows can provide the cleanliness and security you need, with a few additional benefits you may not have considered. Here are just a few reasons to install windows in your medical cleanroom:

    • Morale. A little natural light can go a long way to boost team morale. Sitting in a windowless room all day can affect your staff’s mood, and studies have shown that workers who sit by a window are more productive than those who don’t have access to natural light.
    • Lighting. Cleanroom windows can let in a significant amount of natural light. Not only does this make it easier for your team to complete their processes, but it also can help you save on electricity costs, and minimize the number of cleanroom-specific lighting fixtures you need to install. 
    • Supervision. For applications that must adhere to specific protocol, like pharmaceutical cleanrooms, windows provide the transparency your facility needs. Supervisors can easily monitor production from outside the cleanroom. This helps maintain your cleanroom classification, and minimizes the number of people within the space, without sacrificing the quality and procedure of your process. 

 

Medical Cleanroom Window Styles

 

The benefits of cleanroom windows are clear — they can help increase productivity, reduce lighting costs, and ensure proper supervision without compromising your controlled environment. Any quality cleanroom window will feature a glaze or finish that works to make the window easy to clean, sealed, and contaminant free. Glazing options for cleanroom windows include:

  • Tempered glass
  • Tinted glass
  • Static dissipative
  • Lexan™
  • Laser glass
  • Acrylic
  • Double glazing
  • Film covered glass
  • Acrylic
  • UV

A quality cleanroom supplier can provide the cleanroom window with appropriate glazing for your application and cleanroom standard. While the type of window glaze is important for any medical cleanroom, the window style you choose is a bigger consideration to make. 

If you’re considering installing windows in your medical cleanroom, here’s a look at a few of the styles most suited to your applications. 

Flush or Double Flush Cleanroom Windows

 

Flush cleanroom windows are the best option for nearly any medical cleanroom application. As the name suggests, these windows are installed flush with your cleanroom wall, eliminating any frame or sill where dust, debris, or particle might collect. 

Flush cleanroom windows are available as double flush windows, which means they’re installed directly into the wall, usually with two panes, each of which is flat with its side of the wall. Regular flush cleanroom windows can also be installed flat on the clean side of the cleanroom, with a ledge on the “dirty” side of the cleanroom. 

Beveled Cleanroom Window

 

Beveled cleanroom windows are an affordable alternative to the double flush window. The window itself is flat to the wall but features a beveled sill that eliminates any corners that dust, particles, or micro-organisms could sit on. Since a beveled cleanroom window requires just one pane of glass, it’s more cost-effective than the double-flush window while achieving a similar look and functionality.  

Floor-To-Ceiling Cleanroom Window Panels

 

The final window option available to medical cleanrooms is floor-to-ceiling cleanroom window panels. Depending on your classification, you can opt for a fully windowed cleanroom like Angstrom Technology’s RigidWall cleanrooms. Our RigidWall product offers crystal clear paneling throughout the cleanroom. This is ideal for pharmaceutical and medical applications where transparency and supervision are essential. It also offers a clean aesthetic that allows in plenty of light for your staff. 

If you’re not sure about a completely transparent cleanroom, it’s also possible to integrate just a few window wall panels to let in light, without compromising the design or standard of your cleanroom. These clear panels can meet a variety of cleanrooms classifications. Since each panel is one complete piece of glass or fiberglass, they eliminate the potential for leaks around window seals.  

Installing Cleanroom Windows for Your Medical Application

 

Cleanroom windows are an excellent addition to any medical or pharmaceutical cleanroom. They provide additional light and the transparency and supervision many medical processes require. If you’re working to integrate windows into your existing cleanroom, or if you’re designing a new cleanroom and are hoping to incorporate cleanroom windows, it’s always best to work with a cleanroom expert. 

Cleanroom windows provide a range of benefits, but proper installation is key to ensuring you get the light you need while maintaining your cleanroom’s classification. Look for a cleanroom expert with experience in medical and pharmaceutical cleanrooms, and try to find a provider that will work to help you design and install the ideal cleanroom for your unique application. 

Windows make for a more attractive cleanroom that’s easy for your investors to see and appreciate. If you’re looking to design, build, or reconfigure a cleanroom with windows, whether you’re in the pharmaceutical or medical industry, let us know. We design and install custom cleanrooms that are built to your exact specifications, from the HVAC system and classification down to the windows. Give Angstrom Technology a call at 888-768-6900 or contact us online for more information today.

3 Types of Medical Cleanrooms

3 Types of Medical Cleanrooms

Medical cleanrooms are vital for the work of finding medical solutions, developing vaccines and treatments through pharmacological products, and manufacturing life-saving medical devices, among other important applications. Three main types of medical cleanrooms are medical research cleanrooms, medical device cleanrooms, and pharmaceutical cleanrooms. The cleanroom design for each type will differ depending on the goals of the facility and its cleanroom classification requirements. 

Let’s take a closer look at these three types of medical cleanrooms, and how they differ in their applications, classifications, and cleanroom design. 

 

Medical Research Cleanrooms

 

Medical research cleanrooms are used in the pursuit of medical understanding, research and experimentation, and the development of treatments. Medical research cleanrooms are often required to be biosafe, and have extra safeguards in place to protect employees and their important work from potential biosecurity risks.  

The cleanroom environment must be highly sterile. Medical research cleanrooms usually fall within ISO 14644-1 Class 5-7. The rigorousness of the standard is dictated by the risk level of contaminants to cleanroom operations and safety. For example, for research involving blood or stem cells, an ISO Class 5 cleanroom environment is likely necessary. This means the cleanroom must have a powerful filtration system in place, with allowed particle count of fewer than 3,520 particles half a micron or larger. 

Medical research applications working with infectious or toxic fumes or substances often require negative pressure cleanrooms. This added safeguard keeps contaminants from inside the cleanroom from escaping where they could cause harm to those outside the cleanroom environment. 

Whether for the uses of cancer research, the study of infectious diseases and viruses, or the pursuit of potent and effective vaccinations, medical research cleanrooms are fully equipped with all the specialized equipment, safe storage, and ergonomic furniture researchers need to do their jobs comfortably and effectively. Medical research cleanrooms are usually designed with HardWalls. HardWall cleanrooms can meet even the most stringent classifications these types of medical cleanrooms may require, and are highly modifiable to any application’s unique needs. 

 

Medical Device Cleanrooms

 

Medical devices are specialized products used to diagnose, treat, and cure patients. Unlike pharmaceutical products, medical devices are not metabolized. Instead, they can be used internally and externally as a tool by medical professionals, or even implanted for a long-term solution. Because they come into contact with tissues and membranes, medical devices must be contaminant-free or able to be thoroughly sanitized to prevent the possibility of infection or other risks. For this reason, the production, assembly, and packaging of medical devices requires a controlled cleanroom environment, validated and monitored by stringent requirements and quality control. 

The different stages of medical device production, assembly, and packaging have different cleanliness requirements, and often fall under separate classifications. For example, most medical device manufacturing cleanrooms must comply with ISO Class 5-8 standards. 

More specifically, medical device cleanrooms manufacturing non-critical and semi-critical devices fall in the ISO Class 7-8 range, while devices with critical disinfection levels (like surgical equipment and implanted devices) require the cleanest environments and must comply with ISO Class 5 or greater. Essentially, the stringency of requirements increases as device part sizes become smaller and more intricate.

Medical device packaging cleanrooms, while still very closely monitored to prevent contamination, generally operate within ISO Class 7-8 standards. 

The best cleanroom type for medical device manufacturing and packaging is a HardWall cleanroom. This cleanroom type is able to comply with strict classification requirements and maintain a stable, contaminant-free environment throughout all stages of device production. 

 

Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

 

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms are used to develop chemical treatments and cures to improve health and save lives. In the development and testing of pharmaceuticals, even the slightest contamination could have serious consequences on medical study results or treatment efficiency, and could even lead to life-threatening consequences. Because of this, the pharmaceutical industry is subject to heavy regulation.

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms often require varying levels of cleanliness depending on the type of substances, chemicals, and procedures involved in their operation. The minimum standard for pharmaceutical cleanrooms is generally ISO 7 with progressing needs of ISO 5 or more, which requires 240-600 air changes per hour and 35-70 percent ceiling coverage to maintain an environment of 100,000 0.1μm particles per cubic meter.

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms are also governed by additional regulations by US Pharmacopeia, or USP Standards. Pharmaceutical compounding spaces follow USP Standards 797 for sterile non-hazardous compounds, or the stricter USP 800 for sterile hazardous compounds. USP standards prescribe layout options according to the optimal airflow patterns, cleanroom organization, operator techniques, and sanitation levels of each standard. 

Due to the high level of control needed in a pharmaceutical cleanroom, HardWall cleanrooms are the obvious solution. Able to maintain strict environmental standards and eliminate error caused by temperature, humidity, or contamination, HardWall cleanrooms offer a reliable structure to any medical cleanroom design. 

These three types of medical cleanrooms are vital and valuable investments to businesses pursuing research or creating and preparing compounds and devices to improve health and save lives. Important work in the healthcare industry merits a high-performing medical cleanroom to keep projects and employees protected. 

From pharmaceutical development to medical device manufacturing and packaging, Angstrom Technology designs, builds, and installs medical cleanrooms for any classification standard. If you’re ready to start designing your new cleanroom, get in touch with Angstrom Technology’s professional team today.

3 Medical Industries that Use Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms

3 Medical Industries that Use Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms

It’s a well-known natural process for air to flow from high to low pressure. Examples of this are found around us every day. Wind and weather are formed from the uneven heating of the earth’s surface which generates pockets of high and low pressure air. If you’ve ever witnessed the sudden closing of a door as air is sucked out of a room where no breeze was felt, what you experienced was the high pressure air moving to a low pressure area to achieve stasis. 

High and low pressure, or positive and negative pressure, can be used as a tool in cleanroom environments to protect against entering contaminants (in positive pressure cleanrooms) or contaminant leakage (in negative pressure cleanrooms). We’re going to focus on negative pressure cleanrooms, how they work, and how they are especially important in some medical cleanroom applications. 

 

What are Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms?

 

In a cleanroom, pressurization can be achieved using airflow and air direction. Negative pressure cleanrooms exhaust more air than they supply to create a lower pressure than is found in the surrounding rooms. Negative pressure in cleanrooms is useful because it prevents any contaminants or hazardous substances inside the cleanroom from leaking out where they could contaminate adjacent rooms or endanger employees.

Negative pressure is used in sensitive applications where processes or substances within the cleanroom could be hazardous to work or health outside. Negative pressure is a simple way to further limit the possible escape of harmful particles, fumes, or substances, when used effectively with proper filtration and adequate ventilation.

How Negative Pressure Cleanrooms Work

 

To achieve negative air pressure, external exhausts pull air from the cleanroom at a faster rate than air is introduced over a span of time. The resulting negative pressure means air will want to flow into the cleanroom to fill the low pressure area, effectively stopping contaminants from going against that natural movement in order to escape the cleanroom.

In order for the negative pressure cleanroom to work, adjacent spaces must be maintained at a higher pressure than that of the cleanroom. A slight difference in pressure will prove effective at limiting contaminants, but the greater the pressure differential, the stronger the force of air that wants to move to achieve equilibrium, and thus the greater the resistance for contaminants to move the opposite direction. However, it is possible to have pressure that is too negative, as this could force contaminants into the cleanroom, where they could be detrimental in some applications.

Some cleanrooms only require a slightly negative pressure in order to contain aerosols, while others require a higher pressure difference to aid in containing hazardous liquids or gases from transferring in pass-throughs or other access points. Depending on your application, you may choose a higher pressure differential in order to limit the possible escape of hazardous liquids or toxic fumes. In any case, having a pressure monitoring system is important to ensuring balance and consistency within your cleanroom. If you’re exploring negative pressure cleanroom design, it’s a good idea to build in a monitoring system so you can always check and alter pressure as needed.

Determining Where to Use Negative Pressure in Cleanrooms

 

Negative pressure can be used in a small area, as the total cleanroom pressure, or in part of the cleanroom design such as in a passthrough, workstation, or storage cabinet. An external exhaust removes air and airborne contaminants, odors, or fumes, and prevents hazardous, toxic substances from escaping the negatively pressurized space. 

Some cleanrooms require an enclosed space within the cleanroom to be at a different pressure than surrounding spaces. These are known as negative pressure rooms and are commonly found in pharmaceutical or medical research cleanrooms working with hazardous compounds or infectious particles. Negative pressure rooms are an example of a segmented cleanroom, where other segments may meet different classification requirements or have different needs for pressure, cleanliness, or operating procedures.

Medical Industries and Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms

 

Negative pressure cleanrooms are particularly useful in medical applications where the work involves hazardous compounds, toxic fumes, or infectious substances. A few examples of medical industries that use negative pressure cleanrooms are hospitals, medical research laboratories, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Hospital Cleanrooms

 

Hospitals use negative pressure cleanrooms to contain airborne contagions, pathogens, and viruses.

Whether for research, treatment, preventative isolation or quarantine, negative pressure helps seal in dangerous contaminants to keep hospital staff and patients safe. Hospital cleanroom applications that work with hazardous drugs or infectious diseases are often required to use negative pressure when handling products and treating patients. 

Medical Research Cleanroom

 

Medical research, especially that which involves hazardous substances, aerosol contaminants, or toxic waste, is generally done within the confines and protection of a biosafe cleanroom. Negative pressure is used to prevent any harmful particles from escaping the cleanroom where they could contaminate other spaces or endanger human or animal lives. Negative pressure cleanrooms protect researchers by containing hazardous materials or substances within the cleanroom, where staff is prepared with proper gowning and protective equipment. 

Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

 

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms, particularly those that must comply with USP 800 standards for sterile and non sterile compounding of hazardous materials often require negative pressure to operate safely. Negative pressure cleanrooms allow for safer handling of hazardous drugs, presenting fewer risks to employees and consumers. USP 800 pharmaceutical cleanrooms require a dedicated water channel gauge to monitor pressurization, ensuring that the differential is high enough to be effective, but not too high where it could reduce efficiency and potentially bring contamination into critical parts of the cleanroom. 

Negative pressure cleanrooms are helpful in cleanrooms where the emphasis is on containing the work, product, or processes within the cleanroom. Although they are particularly useful in many medical cleanroom applications, some negative pressure cleanrooms can be found in other industries where hazardous materials need to be controlled. 

Need a negative pressure cleanroom for your sensitive application? At Angstrom Technology, we have the tools and expertise to design the cleanroom that best fits your application and your budget. For a free quote, reach out to our team.

Static Control for Medical Device Cleanrooms: Everything You Need to Know

Static Control for Medical Device Cleanrooms: Everything You Need to Know

Even with a powerful HVAC system, a multi-stage HEPA filtration process, and thorough cleaning procedures, contaminants can still threaten a controlled cleanroom environment. Static electricity is common everywhere we live, but in a cleanroom it can be unpleasant, detrimental, and even dangerous. How can the dangers of static affect your application? How can these problems be avoided? Let’s explore static electricity in medical device cleanrooms, and how to build static control into your cleanroom design from the ground up.

 

Why Does Static Matter?

Static electricity is caused by an imbalance of positive and negative charges on a surface or object. These charges accumulate until they’re neutralized or discharged. It’s a common phenomenon in all parts of the world and is usually harmless. In a cleanroom, however, the buildup of static electricity can be dangerous to products and employees. 

Static electricity in cleanrooms can present dangers to any industry, but in medical device manufacturing, assembly, and packaging it could have disastrous, life-altering consequences. Three ways static can influence with medical device cleanroom safety and efficiency are by:

 

Attracting Contaminants

Static causes contaminants to adhere to charged surfaces through electrostatic attraction (ESA). ESA can occur in many stages of product development and assembly but is perhaps most dangerous in packaging. Particularly if products are packaged using plastic, they can carry charges that are not neutralized during shipping. Once opened, contaminants are attracted to the device, causing it to fail or be rejected. 

 

Inhibiting Equipment

Static that accumulates during product development can interrupt important processes. If parts of the device are repelled or attracted to machinery or equipment it can contaminate them or cause a slowdown in operations, reducing your cleanroom’s efficiency and increasing operational costs.

 

Generating Charges

Static charges that accumulate on surfaces, equipment, personnel, and products that are not properly discharged or neutralized can interfere with electronics or hardware you use to create devices or the devices themselves, causing them to malfunction or fail. Static charges can also create electric shocks, which, while not likely to cause extreme bodily harm, could cause involuntary movement which could lead to accidents or damage to the employee, delicate equipment, or devices. 

Managing static effectively is crucial. Even when the effects of static electricity in medical device cleanrooms are not threatening to the devices you develop, assemble, or package, they may interfere with efficiency and affect operational costs of your facility.  How do you control static in your cleanroom? Many potential problems can be addressed in your cleanroom design and then managed with specific static control cleanroom supplies.

 

Static Control Methods in Cleanroom Design

Cleanroom design can incorporate methods to conduct, dissipate, or neutralize static electricity.

 

Conduction

In conduction, materials or surfaces that present little resistance to the flow of electrons are used to guide charges to the ground safely. Conductive materials direct charges away from where they can damage products or attract contaminants. 

 

Dissipation

Dissipation, similar to conduction, is the flow of charges to the ground, but occurs more slowly and in a more controlled manner. Materials that allow electrostatic discharge through dissipation can be used in flooring, wall materials, and furniture. ESD products discourage the buildup of static electricity to protect products, employees, and cleanroom operations. 

 

Neutralization

To neutralize static, the imbalance of charges must be corrected through adding electrons to positive charges or removing electrons from negative charges. Air ionization is one method more medical cleanrooms are adopting to neutralize air and surface charges. 

An air ionization system adds positive and negative ions to the atmosphere of your cleanroom, directing them with a focused nozzle or blower. The ions are attracted to charged surfaces of the opposite polarity, balancing and effectively neutralizing the surface. Air ionization systems can be incorporated in key areas of production of medical devices, as well as at entry points of the cleanroom to limit the introduction of charges into the cleanroom by employees.

 

Static Control Equipment Cleanroom Supplies

To control static electricity and prevent harmful effects including damage to your equipment, employees, and products, anti-static cleanroom supplies are used to manage static or avoid the generation of excess charges. These could include:

  • Air showers
  • Ionizing blowers
  • Sticky mats to collect contaminants
  • ESD safe furniture such as chairs and workstations
  • ESD garments, gloves, and footwear 
  • ESD monitoring equipment

Static control is also important for cleanrooms using fine electronics and sensitive or flammable substances. In the medical industry the production of medical devices might be the application most threatened by static electricity. With intentional cleanroom design and static control cleanroom supplies, you can protect your products and people, encourage efficient operation, and avoid the potential problems of escalated costs or failed products. 

Think you need static control in your medical cleanroom, but not sure where to start? Angstrom Technology can design and build cleanrooms to your specifications using conductive flooring, ESD materials, static control equipment, and more. We have solutions to avoid static buildup and protect your work and employees. Get in touch with our team to learn more.