Can I Have a Beard in a Cleanroom?


posted by ALLpaQ Packaging

October, 26th, 2022

Pharmaceutical Industry News

To beard or not to beard: that is the question when it comes to working in a cleanroom. You’ll have to forgive the bare-faced cheek of this question but, is growing a beard even a good idea for men who work in laboratories and cleanrooms?

Ever since beards became fashionable again, there have been news articles swirling around claiming, variously, that beards are dirtier than dog fur, on one hand, and that beards contain less bacteria than clean-shaven chins on the other. These tend to be opinion pieces unsupported by any actual data.

When the BBC conducted some scientific tests, they found that the vast majority of the bacteria present in beards were the same ones you would expect to find on bare skin.

So, we’re still scratching our chins about whether or not to have a beard in a cleanroom. But, let’s discuss some of the things you definitely cannot take into a cleanroom.

5 things you can’t take into a cleanroom

At the top of page one of this imaginary list of things you can’t take into a cleanroom is this simple rule: Don’t take in anything that doesn’t need to be there.

1: Personal items

Empty your pockets! Leave your personal items outside the controlled cleanroom environment – such as your keys, your cash, your wallet and, yes, even your phone.

Anything that you typically handle in the outside world, that might pick up contaminants, must not be brought into the cleanroom.

Or, if they are, they must stay safely concealed beneath your PPE garments.

2: Food, drink and cigarettes

Do not eat or chew gum in a controlled environment. We hardly need to add that you can’t smoke in there, either.

However, because residual smoke particles can cling to clothing and skin, and can still be breathed out, smokers need to leave a period of up to ten minutes after finishing their smoke, before entering the lab.

3: Personal grooming products

Do not wear makeup, perfume or aftershave inside your cleanroom. Since makeup can contain emulsifier oils, benzyl or cetyl alcohols, salicylic or stearic acids and preservatives like formaldehyde, any cosmetics are highly likely to introduce unnecessary contaminants into the cleanroom and compromise its hygienic integrity – even in labs producing cosmetics.

4: Bling

Jewellery should be removed; especially earrings, chains or bracelets that might interfere with work or become a safety issue. Any jewellery that can’t be removed needs to be covered up during your gowning procedure.

5: Illness

Clearly, given the nature of the materials you work with, it is important to be in good health when entering a cleanroom; a runny nose, a sneezing fit or an open wound could spell disaster.

The PIC/S Guide to Good Manufacturing Practice for Medicinal Products, for example, stresses that “no person affected by an infectious disease or having open lesions on the exposed surface of the body is engaged in the manufacture of medicinal products”. So there!

So, can I have a beard in a cleanroom?

We’d be really interested to get your take on this – because all the research we’ve done leans in the direction of wearing a beard in a lab being a bad idea.

As the Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men study points out, the risk presented by beards cuts both ways – there is not only the risk of the beard bringing contamination into the laboratory but also the opposite danger of the beard taking pathogens out of the lab and into the world.

Washing your beard with soap and water is, of course, a good way to keep the hairs clean and reduces the levels of microorganisms and toxins present, but experiments have shown that this isn’t a completely infallible method of keeping contaminants out of the lab.

Therefore, when someone with a beard enters a controlled environment, there is an elevated likelihood of those beard-borne contaminants floating in the air or dropping onto work surfaces.

ALLpaQ -Using-a-Beard-Cover-in-a-Cleanroom

So, if you do wear a beard you have to ensure that it is covered. Just as the hair on the rest of your body has to be covered. This needs to be either with a beard cover – basically a hair-net for your chin – or using the face covering that comes with your laboratory coverall.

Care also needs to be taken that beard hair doesn’t compromise the integrity of the seal of your facemask.

So, all of that taken into consideration, we have to say that taking a beard into a cleanroom may end up being a hair-raising experience. But, what do you think?

Take ALLpaQ’s Cleanroom Containers into your cleanroom

You’ll forgive us for suggesting that one thing you absolutely must take into your cleanroom – is ALLpaQ’s revolutionary customisable all-plastic cleanroom biocontainer.

cleanroom-bioprocess-containers-from-allpaq

Don’t let whiskers grow on your bioprocess.

Our cleanroom containers are built on a unique double pallet base for ease of manual handling, they also open on all four sides to ensure flexibility of tube routing and ease of cleaning.

These containers can be safely stacked, to reduce their footprint in your lab and, when they’re empty, they can be collapsed to minimise wasted storage space.

If you have specific questions about fitting our cleanroom containers into your own workflow, just fill in the form below, and we’ll get back in touch.

TAGS: Beards, cleanroom, Hygiene,

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ALLpaQ

Packaging

ALLpaQ is the market leader in the design of innovative pharma containers and fluid management solutions.

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