A cleanroom refers to a highly-controlled environment containing a low level of pollutants. High-tech filters process the air that enters the cleanroom and removes particles from the air such as dust, chemical vapors, aerosols, and other airborne microbes. Cleanrooms are used across a variety of industries in processes where small particles can adversely affect outcomes. You are highly likely to encounter cleanrooms in semiconductor manufacturing, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies.
The Facts Behind Cleanrooms
Air entering a cleanroom is sent through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that traps particles greater than 0.3µm. Ultra-Low Particulate Air (ULPA) filters can be used where greater filtration is required. Other environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and pressure, are also carefully monitored and controlled in cleanrooms. Personnel working in cleanroom environments receive extensive training on contamination control. Cleanroom entrances are controlled by airlocks and employees are required to follow strict protocols before entering the space, which may include showering, gowns, or full-body "bunny suits," all designed to prevent the contaminants generated by the body and clothing from entering the cleanroom space. Everything that enters the cleanroom area is designed to prevent contamination, including things like cleaning supplies, office supplies, and furniture.
Cleanroom environments are measured by the number of particles of a certain size within a cubic meter of space. For reference, normal city air contains approximately 35,000,000 particles greater than 0.5µm in size per cubic meter. Cleanroom classification is made using the ISO (International Standards Organization) scale. Normal room air with no filtering is ISO 9, the lowest classification. The following will give you a brief overview of a few of the classifications and what is required to achieve them:
- ISO 9--(35,000,000>0.5µm) Normal room, no filtering required
- ISO 7--(352,000>0.5µm) HEPA filters, 120 air changes/hour, hair covers, basic protective clothing,
- ISO 5--(3,520>0.5µm) HEPA filters, 480 air change/hour, full body protection
- ISO 3--(35>0.5µm) ULPA filters, 600 air changes/hour, full body protection, pre-filtered air
In industries such as pharmaceutical, biotech, and semiconductor manufacturing, cleanroom management is critical to business success. It's more than just measurements and documentation; it's about complex engineering and technical issues. Call ATS to get a team of industry experts working to control your cleanroom today!