Although most people don’t know about it, clean rooms play a huge role in our individual lives. Everything from packaged food and beverages, electronics like TVs and computers, medicines and semiconductors are all produced in a clean room.
So what is a clean room? These rooms are controlled environments that have strict standards for temperature, humidity and air cleanliness. The standards for clean rooms vary based on the type of work that is being conducted within the room.
Controlled environments use a host of different devices to ensure cleanliness. The biggest enemy of cleanliness is microscopic contaminates called particulates. Because particulates are so small that we cannot see them we do not think of the potential for contamination they can have in the clean room. The most common way to stop particulates is through the HEPA filters.
Most controlled environments typically have a sophisticated HVAC system. The common types of systems start with an HVAC unit that sends air through HEPA filters in the ceilings and then down into the room. The air flows downward in layers, known as laminar flow, and then is absorbed in grilles near the floor. From here the air goes back through the HVAC unit and the whole process starts over again.
Controlled environment workers wear specialized clothing when they are working. Some rooms with very strict cleanliness policies require users to wear a full “bunny suit” or protective clothing that includes gloves, face masks and head coverings. These measures are designed to prevent workers from contaminating the processes conducted within the room with shed skin cells, hair and spittle. Clean room workers are often advised against wearing cosmetic products like colognes, perfumes and aftershaves as they could negatively affect some of the processes being conducted in the clean room.
These rooms are a necessary part of our society that most people take for granted. Because of these rooms we can ensure that medical devices are made free of outside contaminates, electronics can be built properly and bottled water and packaged food can be finished free of disease. The products made in controlled environments are things we use every day and essential to our way of living.
In conclusion, these rooms can be very complex and have an array of tools to combat particulates. These tools may range from specialized clothing to HEPA filters and HVAC systems. Next time you turn on your TV or take medication, remember that it was most likely produced in a controlled environment.