Comparative levels and types of microbial contamination detected in industrial clean rooms

Appl Microbiol. 1966 Jul;14(4):539-51. doi: 10.1128/am.14.4.539-551.1966.


The primary objective of this study was to determine quantitatively and qualitatively the predominant types of microbial contamination occurring in conventional and laminar flow clean rooms. One horizontal laminar flow, three conventional industrial clean rooms, and three open factory areas were selected for microbiological tests. The results showed that as the environment and personnel of a clean room were controlled in a more positive manner with respect to the reduction of particulate contamination, the levels of airborne and surface microbial contaminants were reduced accordingly. The chief sources of microbial contamination were associated with the density and activity of clean room personnel. In addition, the majority of microorganisms isolated from the intramural air by air samplers were those indigenous to humans. Studies on the fallout and accumulation of airborne microorganisms on stainless-steel surfaces showed that, although there were no significant differences in the levels of microbial contamination among the conventional clean rooms, the type of microorganism detected on stainless-steel surfaces was consistently and significantly different. In addition, the "plateau phenomenon" occurred in all environments studied. It was concluded that the stainless-steel strip method for detecting microbial accumulation on surfaces is efficient and sensitive in ultra-clean environments and is the most reliable and practical method for monitoring microbial contamination in future class 100 clean rooms to be used for the assembly of spacecraft which will be sterilized.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Yeasts / isolation & purification