What Does Cleanroom Apparel Mean?
Cleanroom apparel refers to the clothing and related covering material that is worn within cleanrooms, which require controlled low levels of environmental contaminants such as dusts, microbes, vapors, and aerosol particles.
The apparel requirements of a particular cleanroom are part of its air-quality-control practices, which are used to ensure that the room meets the specific requirements of the function for which it has been designed and certified.
Safeopedia Explains Cleanroom Apparel
Low-level clean rooms may only require limited use of apparel, such as special shoes that don’t track in dust or dirt. However, in most cases, required apparel includes a cleanroom suit, which consists of a single garment (such as an all-in-one coverall) or a combination of garments that are fitted together to cover the worker from head to toe. These include boots, gloves, and a hood. Required apparel also includes a fitted cap and may include face coverings as well.
Cleanroom apparel must be made with material that limits the ability of particles to travel from an employee and into to the environment. For this reason, it is commonly made with polyester, Teflon laminate, or Tyvek. If worn as a full-body suit, as is common, the limited breathability of these suits may result in worker discomfort or—depending on the environment—potentially hazardous heat conditions. These ergonomic challenges may be ameliorated through behavioral controls such as the implementation of mandatory break periods or through the use of suits that are specifically designed to maintain heat balance.
The particular apparel requirements of a given cleanroom depend on the standard that the room is designed to meet. The most common cleanroom standard is ISO 14644-1, which provides increasingly strict limitations on the number and size of airborne particles that can be present in a room. The standard classifies cleanrooms according to nine grades, which range from ISO 9 (corresponding to room air) to ISO 1 (the strictest).
For work in cleanrooms that includes electrical equipment, it may be necessary to use cleanroom apparel that meets NFPA and OSHA standards that mandate the use of arc-rated apparel to provide protection against arc flashes and fire. In these cases, apparel may be made with material such as Nomex and carbon yarn to meet cleanroom standards and protect against electrical dangers.