Cleanroom Basics in Manufacturing or Scientific Research

A cleanroom is a working environment where concentration of  airborne particles and contamination is controlled to maintain the specified limits. A cleanroom working environment is required at manufacturing units of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing centers, testing facilities and other critical environments where little contamination can be harmful.

Any contamination in a cleanroom generated by movement of people, manufacturing or research process and equipments should be removed or controlled up to the required standards. The Federal Standard 209E is widely followed cleanroom standard and guideline.

Sources of Contamination in a Cleanroom

Here is a partial list of some of the commonly known contaminants in a cleanroom environment:

  • Hair
  • Skin Flakes

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  • Saliva
  • Make-Up
  • Lotions
  • Perfumes
  • Coughing / Sneezing
  • Excessive Movement
  • Perspiration
  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Tobacco Products
  • Gum, Cough Drops
  • Packing Materials
  • Duct Tape
  • Dirty Clothing
  • Chemicals
  • Caulks and Paints
  • Aerosols
  • Ions (Rust)
  • Permanent Markers
  • Non-Cleanroom pens
  • Smoke
  • Thinners /Solvents
  • Food and Drink

Dangers of Contaminants in a Cleanroom

Most contaminants in a cleanroom environment is invisible to naked eyes. They can be as tiny as 0.3 microns. Despite the tiny size, these contaminants can cause serious damage in sensitive and critical manufacturing units and research centers. Any material, substance, particle, chemical, or other undesirable substance can taint, pollute, defile, make impure or unclean, or adversely effect the process or product. Contamination can take many forms such as: particulate, chemicals (including gases), electro-static discharge, viables ( bacteria, molds, etc..), and other forms.

How to Control Contaminants in a Cleanroom

Contamination control in a cleanroom needs proper planning and execution of these plans.

  1. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter) – These filters are very effective in contamination control. They filter particles as small as 0.3 microns.
  2. Cleanroom Design – Cleanrooms are specially designed for better airflow and least contamination.
  3. Cleaning – Cleaning is an essential element of contamination control. All such cleaning job is done as per the class of the unit and the set standards.
  4. Cleanroom Garments – Special garments are required for cleanrooms. Aprons, hand gloves, face mask and head covers are standard garments.
  5. Human Behavior in Cleanroom – Contamination in a cleanroom can also be controlled by human behavior. There are both physical and psychological concerns when humans are present in a cleanroom. Fast motion is prohibited in such an environment.
  6. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) – Flow of electrons from one object to another creates electrostatic charge. ESD protective materials are used to prevent damage from ESD. Common products and material used for ESD protection are – wrist straps, ESD-safe aprons, ESD-safe Footwear and ESD-safe garments.

Cleaning Procedures for Cleanrooms

Cleaning procedures in a cleanroom depends on the class of the unit. Most commonly sterile cleaning solutions, sticky mats, swabs, wipers and special mops are used for the job.

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