Each application within a typical cleanroom, a healthcare facility, or industrial process is unique and has varying requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) including specialized apparel. Sometimes the job of the apparel is not only to protect the worker, but also to protect the environment and sometimes products created by an application from contamination.
Below are some generalities to help you understand the difference among our International Enviroguard catalogs for cleanrooms, healthcare, and industrial PPE.
In the pyramid above the requirements for cleanliness and sterility increase at higher levels, and, in general, the cost of the apparel rises, also, to account for the additional processes such as specialty laundering and cleanroom-packaging required for ultra-clean apparel.
Cleanroom PPE Requirements, Purpose, and Relative Costs
Key points regarding cleanroom apparel:
- Stringent cleanroom applications require clean lint-free Learn more about cleanroom classes and what to wear in each.
- Many applications such as biomedical, life sciences, and pharmaceutical compounding require sterile apparel to protect the environment and the products (medications, test results, etc.) from microbial contamination.
- All cleanroom apparel is designed to protect the environment from contamination which may include particles such as dust or lint, electro-static buildup, microbes, etc.
- Some cleanroom applications need PPE that protects the worker. These require specialty materials such as microporous-coated fabric or a composition of multiple layers that serve to be impervious to hazardous compounds.
- As requirements increase such as higher levels of cleanliness, sterility, and chemo-rated for hazardous exposure protection, so do the costs of the apparel.
For example, reasons that an exam glove that is perfectly acceptable in many healthcare situations is rarely appropriate for a cleanroom include:
- Exam gloves may give off powder, residual gases, or lint and other particles that have become attached to them because they were not laundered and packaged in a cleanroom.
- Exam gloves come in a paper box that will give off fibers as the box is opened and gloves are pulled from it so they are not recommended for even less strict cleanrooms.
- Most exam gloves are not chemo-rated for protection of workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Exam gloves are not gamma-irradiated for sterility.
Though exam gloves are some of the most economical disposable gloves you can buy, using them in a cleanroom environment would not save money in the long run.
Various types of cleanroom apparel go through very specific processes and testing to ensure they are suitable for a specific cleanroom class. Examples of what apparel and gloves may undergo:
- particle, extraction (ionic), and NVR (non-volatile residue) testing to ensure very high levels of cleanliness.
- processes to wash in deionized, filtered water(often multiple times), chlorinate, – , rinse, dry, and then packaged in bags (somtimes double or triple bagged)
- all of these processes and testing occur inside a strict cleanroom including the production of the cleanroom bags.
Though costs increase with higher requirements, it is vital that controlling these costs is not at the expense of the cleanroom’s products or worker safety. We offer the wholesale prices, guaranteed the lowest in the industry on all our cleanroom supplies. We also offer free samples so you can try before you buy a full case to ensure you do not waste consumables you pay for. These are ways that we can help you keep costs lower while having the confidence you are using high quality cleanroom apparel that protects your staff and products.
Healthcare PPE Requirements & Costs
Key points regarding healtcare and medical apparel:
- Few healthcare applications require apparel that protects the facility from contamination by the staff.
- The purpose of healthcare PPE is to protect staff from illness or, in some cases, exposure to dangerous compounds such as cytotoxic drugs. Healthcare apparel also protect patients from illness and unintended exposure to hazardous drugs.
- Using disposable healthcare apparel enables staff to change frequently to avoid cross-contamination of microbes or hazardous drugs between people or facility areas.
- Most versions of protective apparel that are suitable for hospitals, labs, and other healthcare settings are less costly than cleanroom apparel because of lower requirements such as no need to be lint-free, sterile, or chemo-rated.
Industrial PPE Requirements & Costs
Key points about industrial apparel:
- Most often apparel used in an industrial setting has the purpose of protecting the worker from exposure to chemicals within the environment.
- Lint-free cleanliness and sterility are rarely of concern.
- Most of the costs above manufacturing the apparel goes into testing for permeability so it is relatively less expensive than cleanroom apparel.
Questions? Ask Our PPE Experts
Have questions about what cleanroom apparel is right for your environment? Let our cleanroom consultants know and they will help you choose the products that match your protocols and will provide free samples to help you ensure they work in your environment.