Considerations in Choosing an Active Microbial Air Sampler

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There are two primary types of microbial air sampling: Active air sampling, and passive air sampling. In passive air sampling, a nutrient media test plate is placed in a desired location and allowed to collect particulates (both viable and non viable) for a desired amount of time. Active air sampling, on the other hand, requires air to be drawn into the device through a vacuum source and the particles within the sampled air volume are then captured on, or within the nutrient test media employed.

If you’re considering an active air sampling solution for your work environment, there are some things you need to take into account before deciding on a specific model:

Because an active microbial air sampler requires equipment to generate air vacuum and gather samples, they’re much larger than a simple sample test plate. Still, active air monitoring equipment comes in a variety of sizes, giving you the ability to find a solution that fits both your budget and your physical workspace. Ideally, your air sampling equipment won’t be cumbersome, take up space, or impact your environment or operations in a negative way.

Active air sampling equipment presents a variety of advantages, which includes the allowance to monitor smaller microbial particulates, less than 1 micron in size. Active air sampling can meet the requirements for capture of 1m3 of air in critical zones and the density of microorganisms per volume of air can be determined. You’ll need to regularly sterilize and sanitize the equipment to ensure the sampling process isn’t corrupted by previous collections.

A sample plate used for passive air sampling is generally less expensive than an active air sampler. Combined with the maintenance costs, an active sampler can represent quite an investment. Regardless, active air sampling can be a beneficial asset and is the best method of testing in certain environments and circumstances. At EMTEK, we provide our clients with several varieties of samplers available for varying types of labs as well as budgets.

The right air sampling solution is the one that gives you the results you need without negatively impacting your environment and workspace. For more information about which air sampler may work best for your facilities and process please visit or contact us at 877.850.4244.