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.