Most of the time, the “protection” part of hand protection is straightforward. Gloves are designed specifically to protect the wearer’s hands from some type of injury — cuts, spills, burns, or even repetitive use injuries that only manifest over time. The challenge is as straightforward as finding the right glove for the job — balancing comfort, performance, and protection.
In cleanroom environments, however, it isn’t so simple. These are delicate ecosystems dedicated to research and manufacturing that are sensitive to even minute impurities, and 80 percent of those impurities originate from people.1 Gloves and other personal protective equipment must limit the introduction of any particulates into the cleanroom, which means these special-use gloves are designed to protect the products as much as the wearer. Consider the potential cost of a contaminated pharmaceutical product; millions of dollars could be conservative.
Is your glove packaged in a dispenser box? Is it labeled 'examination glove' ?
If so, it is not suitable for a critical environment. Why? Boxed exam gloves are designed to protect the operator. Cleanroom Gloves are engineered to both protect the operator and your critical product.
Pre- Wetted Wiper Pail
The Valutek resealable pail guarantees that your last pre-wetted wipe will be as consistently saturated as the first. Our refillable pail containers are environmentally friendly, minimizing solvent evaporation, and reducing operator solvent exposure
1. Procurement, storage and document control of flammable solvents is not a walk in the park. Chemical purchasing, storage, blending, dispensing, usage, and disposal require internal resources. Updated MSDS documentation must be keep on-site.
1. Cleanroom Compatibility: not all shoe covers are designed to be worn with a boot cover in a controlled environment. Construction materials determine if the shoe cover will help to reduce or increase contamination in your cleanroom. Uncoated spunbound polypropylene shoe cover is well suited for industrial and hospital settings, however in a cleanroom, it will release fibers. Average operators walk from 700 to 1,000 steps around their work stations. Can you imagine operators wearing cleanroom shoe covers that release particles in every step? The HEPA pre-filters will be choked with polypropylene fiber.
2. Traction and Slip Resistance: The only way to prevent slips and falls is to make sure that shoe covers are well fitted, and provides as much traction and slip resistance as possible. Look for a substrate material with a high co-efficient of friction. The higher the number, the more “anti-slip” the shoe cover will be.
3. Design and Comfort: Is the sole durable? Waterproof? Abrasion resistant? The wrong design can actually increase the risk of costly operator accidents.
To determine the most appropriate Cleanroom Wipers for a specific task, consider the five C’s; Cost, Capacity, Cleanliness, Chemical Compatibility, & Construction.
Cost: How much is each individual wiper? Is the wiper the full published size? Be cautious of wipers that refer to their sizing as nominal. Make your costing comparison on actual wiper size. Compare individual wiper cost per surface area to calculate the total cost per swipe. A ¼ folded cleanroom wiper has 8 unique swipes.
Capacity: How much liquid can the wiper hold? Higher sorbent capacity means that the wiper can hold more cleaning chemistry. Substrates such as non-woven poly / cellulose and cotton are inherently absorbent in their fiber structures. Woven knits such as polyester and nylon, the chemistry is trapped in the crevices of the fibers. This is adsorbent.
If you have ever found yourself preparing to place a critical environment consumable order, it is likely you have wondered what's the most important cleanroom disposable? What consumable should I be most concerned with? Should it be my garment, glove, or wiper selection?
The direct answer: They are all equally important! The reason they are all so important is because your cleanroom consumables work together as a system; they are all interlinked. Apparel, gloves, and wipers all have the potential to make direct contact with your critical process and/or product. Therefore, if you have one weak link your whole system might breakdown. In order to understand how all of your cleanroom consumables work together, imagine you have the following items:
Nitrile gloves have been steadily growing in popularity in controlled environments for the last decade. Compared to Latex, nitrile is lower in particles, ionic extractables and non-volatile residues (NVR). Nitrile also has "memory" properties that enable the material to adapt to the hand for a more custom fit, reducing hand fatigue. Nitrile is three times more puncture-resistant than latex, and also provides excellent protection against both mild acid & solvents. With its static-dissipative properties, nitrile is ideal for electronic industries where ESD safety is of paramount importance.
To understand controlled environment nitrile gloves and the difference in this material, let's consider the question, how are cleanroom nitrile gloves made?
When determining the quality of your cleanroom gloves, it is important to take glove odor and color into account.
Odor:Typical powder-free cleanroom latex gloves will be an off-white color. If you take one of these gloves and snap it several times, then smell the glove, you might smell a rather putrid odor. This odor is the residual chlorine that gets trapped in the molecular structure of the latex that continues to outgas, or release, when the glove is warm. In other words, latex gloves have odor because there are chlorine impurities that get trapped in the molecular structure.
As a large format digital printer operator, you know exactly how important it is to take care of your inkjet heads. If the inkjet heads get contaminated by the loose fibers from your cleaning rags, your output quality will suffer. Ultimately, improper cleaning can require your inkjet heads to be factory serviced. That is why many original equipment manufacturers insist that you use only “lint-free” polyester cleanroom wipers while your unit is under the original equipment warranty. Using an industrial “shop towel” can cause permanent damage to your expensive LFDP inkjet heads. To ensure the maximum life of your inkjet heads, get educated on the importance of using the appropriate wipers.
Do you know what the number one source of cleanroom contamination is? According to the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) report, 70-80% cleanroom contamination is operator based. Therefore, the number one source of contamination in your controlled environment is your operators. Let’s examine the why and how.
The four main issues causing the operators to be the primary source of your cleanroom contamination are: hygiene, street clothing (undergarments), residual smoke, & attitude.
If you must work in a controlled environment, you know how important it is to ensure that the area remains contaminant free. However, did you know that it isn't enough to simply put on your cleanroom apparel and get to work? It is critical that you understand how to properly don controlled environment apparel. Abide by the following step-by-step protocol, and you will be able to reduce potential contamination in your controlled environment.
1. Walk across the grey or blue tacky mat outside the gown room entrance, as you don your bouffant cap. As you enter the gowning room, you should already have your bouffant cap on. Best practices mandate that your bouffant caps to be worn as you walk into the gown room. Your head hair & skin is a primary contaminants source. Cover them up prior to gaining access.
2. Then, you should grab your shoe cover and sit on the “street attire” side of the gowning room bench. When you come to the bench, the next components that go on are your shoe covers. After you've walked across the tacky mat, before you entered the gown room, you've removed most of the surface contaminants from your shoes. It is very important that your covered shoes only walk on one side of the bench. This will mean that you have to begin on one side of the bench and end up on the "shoe cover only" side in order to ensure that uncovered shoes are not contaminating the area.
Sticky mats (or adhesive mats) are an often overlooked, but critical portion of your clean room. All your foot-borne contamination have the potential to enter your critical environment. In this blog post, we are going to discuss how to properly use sticky mats in your cleanroom.
1. Layer Removal — To remove and an old layer some people will just rip it off. Doing this places loose particles into the air, and can create a static charge. Correct removal of the sticky mat sheet is to peel it back by rolling it up slowly and into a ball.
Your gloves and pre-wetted wiper choices are critical to attaining desires outcomes for your critical environment. It is important that glove and wiper selection match, and that you have the right set.
Let's use dinnerware as an example of matched sets. If you are planning an informal super-bowl party for a gang of rowdy teenagers, you won't put out your fine china, crystal stemware, or silver. Paper plates, plastic forks, and plastic cups will be your choice for serving party foods.
If you are entertaining potential clients and want to make the best impression, then it is the time for the china, crystal, and silver. Paper plates and plastic forks are inferior options and will not achieve your desired objective.
Particle Removal: Understanding the Role of Surface Tension
Surface tension might not be a big deal outside of a cleanroom, but inside a cleanroom it could cause numerous problems. Surface tension is the cohesive force with which particles cling to a surface. In order to achieve cleanliness in a surface, it is important to find effective ways to release these particles so that we can remove them. There are two primary ways that surfaces can be wiped clean: by using a mechanical action with an aggressive texture, such as a dry sponge, or by using liquids and removing the particles with a damp paper towel.
High-tech manufacturers are under constant pressure to provide an ever-increasing quality product at a lower cost. Throughout the organization, cost savings has become the mantra.
When it comes to cleanroom consumables, people are asking the question, "Is there really a different between the branded products and the generic products?".
When it comes to purchasing cleanroom pre-saturated (or pre-wetted) wipers there are many things to consider. How long will they last? Will they be the proper mixture? Am I really getting what I need? With all of these questions cleanroom operators generally end up with something they don't really need or they get too much and waist a majority of their supply. Valutek has risen with a solution to all of theses questions.
The naked cuff is an issue that threatens the safety of the worker. You may be wondering what it is, why it's an issue, and how to resolve it. This week, we're going in-depth with the naked cuff and explaining why it is such a critical issue with contamination controlling in the cleanroom. We would also like to offer you a FREE Glove Selection Tool Kit.
Cleanroom gloves come in a variety of colors, and they may have an odor when you put them on. These facts are usually bypassed without much thought, but one might wonder: what causes these colors and odors? This week, we're going in-depth with cleanroom gloves to explain why they're colored they way they are and what the cause of that odor is. A typical powder-free latex glove will have an off-white cream color. If you take that glove and stretch it a few times then smell it, you'll find that the odor is rather unpleasant. That odor comes from the residual chlorine that is trapped within the molecular structure of the latex that continues to outgas when the glove is worn, so the odor itself is the chlorine impurities. You can do the same thing for nitro gloves; if you snap it a few times before sniffing it, you'll smell an odor. The reason for the odor in nitro gloves are manufacturing impurities that haven't been removed from the glove during the manufacture process. Both latex and nitro gloves go through a rigorous post-processing process, and they shouldn't have any residual odor. That odor is outgassing and the outgassing are contaminants, so if your gloves have an odor it's best to send that glove to environmental health and safety, do particle count testing on it, and disqualify it.
Two important factors in proper washing of the cleanroom garment is the type of water and the detergent. Improper washing procedures can reduce the life expectancy of the garment to less than half.
The appropriate water is an ultra-pure, deionized (DI) water or reverse osmosis (RO) water. In order to produce DI water, you will need a special water purification system and the handling of DI water requires all stainless steel fittings. The benefit of using DI or RO water is that this water will help release the surface tension of particles clinging to the cleanroom garments. Additionally, the water should be very hot.
How clean is your controlled environment? Is this a question that keeps you up at night? If not, maybe it should. What are the specifications for critical care settings? How do you know if you are meeting them?
There are two systems of measure in critical environemtn standards. The English, 209E, method and the European, ISO. The ISO method assigns a number to the ratio of particles in a cubic square of air. The English method uses the number of particles per cubic square. In the English method, this is stated as 100 particles per cubic square of air which is the equivalent of 5 on the ISO scale. This is considered a clean room class 100. It is important to knowyour internal specifications are for your critical environment as they may differ.
Determining the cleanliness of your environment is vital to keeping it sterile. Testing equipment, such as an Air Particle Counter (APC), is used to test the air quality. APC's (use laser technology) are highly calibrated and require recalibration at least once yearly. Valutek can check your environment, using this, and other state-of-the-art equipment. Once the level of particles is determined, we offer materials designed to meet these standards and keep your clean room safe.
Donning controlled environment is each technician's responsibility before entering your critical environment. Committed to maintaining a high level of safety and particle reduction in your critical environment and the protective clothing worn by your team members is crucial to maintaining that environment. Comfortable protective clothing for your oerator's increases operator efficiency. Valutek has designed apparel to provide operator safety, while preventing operator generated contamination from entering your critical environment space.
First, it is necessary to understand the difference between PPE (personal protective equipment) and critical environment CE (critical environment) apparel. Not all PPE apparel is engineered to maintain a critical environment. Consider these statements to determine if your PPE apparel is compatible and safe for use in a critical area.
Operating a cleanroom with a stable particle count is hard work, and when contamination enters your critical environment it can make for a very difficult time. The most common offenders that will cause your particle counts to climb might surprise you, but they are easily identifiable, and in some cases easy to fix.
Of course you want to take the best measures to make sure that your operators are not only safe but comfortable. Making sure that your operators are fitted with properly sized shoe covers, designed with compatibility and safety in mind, is key to footwear in your cleanroom.