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Air Monitoring

At Analis we have air monitoring solutions for all your biological targets.  Ask our experts

Microbioal Environmental Monitoring ORUM TrioBas Solutions 
There are many types of microbial air samplers. The most used one is the microbial air sampler based on the impact method on an agar plate (also known as impactor). This type of sampler has 2 main components: an air pump and a head piece. The head piece contains an agar plate. The air pump pulls the air through a perforated cover into the headpiece. The air then makes a short turn above the agar plate. Due to the centrifugal force, the particles in the air make contact with the agar surface and they stick. Micro-organisms always travel on dust or aerosol particles. They rarely travel on their own. By incubating the agar plate after the sampling, the micro-organisms will multiply. After a certain incubation time, the clusters of bacteria are visible on the plate, and the so called colony forming units can be counted. Based on the volume of sampled air, you can then calculate the number of colony forming units present per volume of air. This method is the most used for the so called ‘active air sampling’ or ‘viable particle monitoring’.
What are the advantages of a microbial air sampler by impact on agar?
This method has a large advantage when you do routine microbial quality control of the air. The most common used parameters for this are total viable count, and total yeasts and moulds. Usually, you have an idea of the range of colony forming units in the air, and you only want to measure cultivable micro-organisms. Using the microbial air sampler by impact on agar you have a very fast, easy, and cheap method to monitor the air quality. You sample directly on the plate, incubate, and count it. Culturing is the most easy and cheap detection method. It is widely used in different industries and guidelines.
What does the EU GMP Annex 1 say about air monitoring?
The EU GMP Annex 1 is a guideline for the sterile production (in pharma and biotech production environments). The EU GMP Annex 1 has a section that talks about ‘Viable and non-viable environmental & process monitoring’. Air monitoring is a big part of this section. The guideline talks about 3 types of air monitoring:
  • Passive sampling of viable particles/ settle plates: this is a simulation of the reality. You open the agar plate for max 4 hours, you close it, incubate it, and at the end you can count the colonies.
  • Volumetric air sampling / active air sampling of viable particles: this is most often done with an impactor/ microbial air sampler. You sample max 1000L per plate. After that, you incubate the plate, and you count the colonies. This gives you exact data about the number of viable particles per volume of air.
  • Monitoring of non-viable particle: for this part, you measure the number of dust particles of <0,5 µm and <5µm using an air sampling instrument (often referred to as particle counters).
For all 3 types of air monitoring mentioned above, the EU GMP Annex 1 defines certain thresholds for the different cleanroom grades: grade A, B, C and D. Also, the frequency of the sampling depends on the cleanroom grade. For grade A zones, the microbial air samples must be in stainless-steel an often satellite samplers or probes are used.
A Microbial air sampler for air
bio-contamination control:  BERTIN Instruments - CORIOLIS

What is a cyclonic air sampler?
A portable cyclonic air sampler is a relative new technology. It has 2 important components: an air pump and a head piece. The head piece can either have an empty cone (dry cyclonic air sampler) or a cone filled with a fluid (wet cyclonic air sampler). The principle is the same for both technologies. The air pump sucks the air out of the cone. The head piece contains an air inlet with a very specific positioning: the air enters the cone in a vortex/centrifugal movement. Due to this movement at high speed, the centrifugal force makes the particles migrate towards the walls of the cone. The particles then make contact with either the fluid (wet cyclonic air samplers) or the empty cone (dry cyclonic air samplers). At the end of the sampling, you get a cone containing all captured particles between 0,5 and 20 µm.

What are the advantages of a wet cyclonic air sampler?
 A wet cyclonic air sampler mainly has advantages where the method with impact on agar has limitations. You can sample in various liquids. The liquid output offers a lot of possibilities:
  • You can use the sample for practically all available detection methods. This means you are not restricted to culturing only: you can analyse with qPCR, Elisa, spectrometry, …
  • Because you can use different detection methods, you can measure a lot more than just cultivable micro-organisms: viruses, non-cultivable bacteria, allergens, endotoxins, metals, silica, plastics, …
  •  Higher volumes are possible. Using impactors, the max volume is restricted due to the drying out of the agar plates. Some of the targets you want to capture are present in very low concentrations. Using a wet cyclonic sampler combined with a fluid injection system, you can sample up to 6h and 108 000l into 1 sample.
  • In environments with high dust concentrations, the agar surface of the agar plate can be saturated very quickly. When this happens, particles are no longer captured, and your sampling is failing. When you use a wet cyclonic air sampler with a liquid, the contact surface is constantly renewed.
  • When you have no idea of the concentration in the air, the method with impact on agar is a trial-and-error method. It possible that you will need to do multiple samplings to get a countable result (between 3 and 300 colony forming units). When you have a liquid sample at the end, it is possible to make a dilution series that you can pipet on different plates. This way you are sure to have a countable result.
Can I measure Sars-CoV-2 in the air?
Using a wet cyclonic air sampler, you can sample Sars-CoV-2 directly in a liquid. The cone containing the liquid and Sars-CoV-2 particles can then be closed and send to a laboratory for analysis. The most used detection method for Sars-CoV-2 is qPCR. Also, other detection methods are possible like viral culturing, but this is only allowed in a very limited number of laboratories.
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TRIO.BAS MONO 100 Petri PACK with Cable
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ORUM INTERNATIONAL S.R.L. 212K Microbial Air Samplers
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