Microbial Air Samplers

Microbial Air Samplers: Appropriateness of Device

Air sampling equipment is designed with a specific purpose in mind, but many purchasers do not realize that the differences between different air samplers can be major factors in the appropriate testing and control of their environments. Simply put, some air monitoring equipment are not fit for operation in certain environments, and using the wrong device could end up creating negative consequences for the environment that surrounds it. For this reason, it is critical to understand the differences between devices.

Device Desirability
Some device traits make specific pieces of air monitoring equipment undesirable in a cleanroom, or lab environment. Problems such as material shedding by the device, sample volumes exhausted at test locations, unfiltered exhaust, and airflow disruption can arise when using the wrong air sampling equipment. Additionally, cumbersome or large devices are not easily placed or located for the sake of testing.

Ideal Design
The right air sampling design skips the major design problems of lesser units. Look for HEPA filtered exhausts, the exhaust of particles outside of critical zones, a device that is easily sterilized or sanitized, and something with a small footprint and low profile that’s easy to place. Also desirable: Remote operation controls that make it easier to manage your sampling protocols from a location, outside, or away from the critical environment being tested.

When considering a new piece of air sampling equipment, you should think about the following: Type and size of microbial particles being sampled, sensitivity of those microbial organisms to the testing parameters, concentration of those microbial particles, and the ability to detect high or low levels of microbial contamination. Also to be considered: Appropriate culture media for detection of the desired microbes being collected, and the time and duration of sampling.
The wrong air sampling devices can compromise everything you do. But, choosing the right air sampler helps you keep your critical environments in an appropriate state of control, by ensuring that the device itself does not negatively impact your environnment, while the samples and data you collect are accurate.

For more information about our Air Sampling products please visit www.emtekair.com.

Microbial Air Samplers: Understanding Sample Rates

Microbial Air samplers are used in a variety of environments, in a wide array of industries, ranging from food production lines, surgical amphitheaters, to pharmaceutical cleanrooms. Each application and environment may require differing sampling parameters (e.g., sampling periods, sampling rates, etc.), and understanding the difference between various sample rates, and associated particulate capture velocities, can help you better determine which type of air sampling you need and which devices will give you the best possible results.

Capture Velocity
Capture velocity is a deciding factor in your sample rate. The combination of a device’s flow rate and its inlet size, in conjunction with the distance of the inlet to the media surface, result in specific capture velocities, and capabilities, of particulates and microbial organisms. Air sampling devices offer capture velocities as low as 5 meters per second to over 135 meters per second; the ideal range is around 25-80 MPS.

The Importance of Capture Velocity
A microbial air sampler’s capture velocity is more than just a line item on a devices specifications — it is a critical component of the device’s functionality that has a big impact on its overall effectiveness. If the velocity is too low, smaller organisms and spores will not be retained. If it is too high, the force of hitting the media could render microbes non-viable.

Sampling Rates

High sample rates are best for short sampling periods and low sampling rates are best for long sampling periods. But, it is important to assure whether you have a high or low sampling rate, that your capture velocity remains consistent, for a consistent and comparable data set of your environments.  Your required sampling periods will be dictated by the work you do and the environment in which you do it.

There is much to learn when it comes to microbial air samplers. Each individual device provides a specific list of features that may or may not be appropriate for your requirements. Knowledge in the basic specifications that set these devices apart helps you make the right decisions for your work environment, and ensures you do not compromise samples with an inappropriate sampling device.

For more information about the technical details of our samplers or the best sampler for your needs please visit www.emtekair.com.

Air Sampling – How to do it the Right Way

Air sampling is a critical function of any Quality Control (QC) laboratory associated with a Pharmaceutical, Biotech, or healthcare facility, yet many QC personnel are unaware of the best methods of microbial air sampling for their particular needs. There are several mechanisms for sampling viable particulates out of the air, and different mechanisms benefit different testing requirements. One must first determine the type of sampling device and scheme, which fits their specific needs, then work with the available technologies that best suits them to meet their testing requirements.

If one is unclear on how to most effectively use a microbial air sampler or compressed gas monitoring system to ensure the safety and health of your employees and customers, it’s important to understand the types of microbial air sampling devices and their individual benefits.

Passive vs. Active
There are two primary methods for microbial air sampling: Active and Passive monitoring. In active monitoring, a microbial air sampler is used to force air into, or onto its collection medium (e.g., Petri Dish with nutrient agar based test media) over a specified period of time. The collected culture can then be incubated and analyzed (ie., count bacterial and/or fungal, colony forming units (CFU), and identify if required). In passive monitoring, settle plates (Petri dishes) are opened and exposed to the air for specified periods of time to determine what microbiological particles may be present in the environment, as they may settle out of the ambient air, and onto the media surface of the Petri Dish.. These plates are then incubated and analyzed.

Both passive and active monitoring have their own strengths and weaknesses. Passive monitoring is not aggressive and may miss critical microbes, but offers a lengthy (4-hour) sampling period, and a very low cost associated with it. Active monitoring requires equipment purchases, additional training, device qualification, and most devices offer a shorter sampling period (e.g., 10-minutes), which can be both a benefit, or a burden. But, active monitoring devices are more ideal for situations with low microbial concentration, which includes most clean rooms, since microbial contaminants will be less likely detected by passive monitoring.

With both Passive and Active monitoring, personel are required to physically start the process, set up the settling plate, or device, and remember to check samples in process, label, and submit the test plates for incubation and analysis. With the analysis, active monitoring will allow for both a quantitative and qualitative analyses of the sample, by allow the determination of contamination levels per volume of air sample, while with passive monitoring one can only obtain a qualitative analysis.
Because there is no standardized protocol for collecting air samples, it is difficult to determine whether one method is “better” than the other. However, knowing the difference can help you determine which solution will work best in your work environment. It is also important to note that microbial air samplers will turn up different results within the same area, or room based on the time and activity of the room. As such, both “Dynamic” and “Static” condition monitoring data should be collected in an area, or room. If a sample is taken during a surgery, for example, it will likely show more microbial elements than air sampling done in the same room with fewer factors, such as personnel and equipment, contributing to the microbial population.

When it comes to air sampling, the best method is one that works best for you and suits your specific needs while keeping your employees and clients safe. www.emtekair.com

What Microbial Air Sampling Solutions are Best for You?

A microbial air sampler is a critical component of any Quality Control (QC) lab associated with Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Healthcare facilities. Not only do samplers protect your work environment and ensure that there is no contamination in your processes and products, they are absolutely required in order to meet most mandatory regulatory requirements.

You cannot run a QC lab without a microbial air sampler. The real question isn’t whether you need one, but which one will work best for your specific requirements.

Here’s a quick overview of a few key elements:

  • Sample Rate
    Sample rates in air samplers are somewhat self-explanatory. This element refers to the speed at which your air sampler can collect a specific volume of air, along with the particles (viable and non-viable) within that air volume, and is commonly measured in liters per minute. On the low end, you’ll find samplers that collect at about 28.3 liters per minute, while the high end offers units that can collect up to 180 liters. The nature of your work will determine the importance of sample rate.
  • Sample Period
    The maximum sample period of a microbial air sampler determines how long the device can be left to perform its task. Much like sample rates, you’ll find a wide range of options here with allowed sampling periods as low as 1 minute and as high as four hours. If one is looking to take quick samples in general facility areas one of the most common sample rates is 100 lpm, which allow s for capture of a 1 cubic meter sample in 10-minutes. But, if one is looking to monitor a lengthy process, such as a pharmaceutical filling operation, or a lengthy surgery, one would opt to have an extended sampling period such as testing at 28.3 LPM for 2-hours. This minimizes required personnel interactions with the sampling device for test medium changes Again, the nature of your testing requirements will drive the required sampling period.
  • Volume Collected
    Volume collected determines how much is sampled over the course of the device’s maximum sample period, and its set, or allowable sample rate, and is measured in liters, cubic meters or cubic feet. Results vary widely from device to device, with standard total volumes running from 1,000 liters to 6,800.

Overall, the specific microbial air sampling solution that works best for you will be the one that gives you the sample rate you need over the right period of time, along with enough volume for you to actually get readings on the factors you consider important. Every test has different requirements; thus, it’s up to you to decide the selection of your device.

For more information about air samplers, compressed air samplers or sampling in general, please visit www.emtekair.com