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NEWSLETTER No. 65 2005 December
Comparison of Air Samplers for Environmental Monitoring regarding ISO 14698
by Dr. Jürgen Horn
Environmental monitoring is a must in the pharmaceutical industry. To follow current guidelines and recommendations it is necessary to validate the microbial airborne sampling system as described in the ISO 14698, Biocontamination Control. This worldwide accepted guideline is the only one, which describes in detail, the procedure for an acceptable validation. Regarding this guideline several commercial air sampling systems, such as sedimentation, impaction, slit-to-agar and several sieve samplers, plus filter sampler, centrifugal sampler and impinger are discussed. It can be shown that the centrifugal sampler system, RCS, is the only system which fulfils all requirements of ISO 14698.
Environmental Monitoring is a must in the pharmaceutical industry. The FDA guidelines for Aseptic Processing from September 2004 suggests that the air sampler should be evaluated based on collection efficiency, cleaning ability, ability to be sterilized and disruption of unidirectional air flow. Further devices have to be calibrated and used according to appropriate procedures. The EU GMP Guide, Annex 1, “Manufacture of Sterile Medicinal Products” makes a direct reference to the applicable EN / ISO Standards. A specific Standard for the purpose of Environmental Monitoring is ISO 14698 Biocontamination control. It is a valid worldwide published standard, and is mandatory in Europe as there is a reference in the EU GMP Guide. Even companies not producing in Europe or not exporting to Europe cover themselves by application of ISO 14698, as this represents the worldwide technical standard in this field. ISO 14698 is a useful checklist on what to do in Environmental Monitoring and how to validate equipment such as air samplers. The same validation procedures for air samplers may, of course, be used for validation of the associated media. An important point is that validation of air sampling is done by using real bioaerosols and real air sampling and not any surrogate testing involving direct inoculation of test strains on media.
Physics demands that particles in air have to be accelerated to be deposited from the air on to a surface. • Exhaust may cause air turbulence. On the other hand. will include recovery from sedimenting real aerosols after real sampling conditions in aseptic and in uncontrolled environments. If surrogate tests are correct this may be simply by chance and does not predict a true outcome with the next surrogate testing procedure. Real validations need real conditions as in the technical standard described in ISO 14698. Therefore. Slit to Agar Sampler Cassella Slit to Agar Sampler.There is evidence that direct inoculation may yield erroneous results. Sedimentation Passive air sampling using sedimentation plates is an adjunct to active air sampling. optimally. but also for biological efficiency. different air sampling procedures with different air samplers were compared to existing international norms and guidelines. where the recovery of vegetative cells of even sensitive microorganisms can be determined. • Instruments are not portable and not easy to handle. Sedimentation has been widely used in Europe and is now part of the FDA guidelines. ISO 14698 suggests not only methods for physical efficiency. • The entire instruments are not sterilisable. Mattson Garvin Slit to Agar Sampler • Limited validation results to ISO like conditions (14698 was a draft in 1995) showing 0% recovery on selective McConkey and variable recovery rates on Tryptic Soy Agar depending on the adjustable impaction speed with the Mattson Garvin. Settle plates can be used for qualitative or semi-quantitative air monitoring. where direct inoculation yields normal growth. The data generated by passive air sampling can be useful when considered in combination with results from active air samplers. published that slit to agar and sieve plate samplers recovered 0% of aerosols of gram negative organisms on McConkey. Willeke et al in 1995. This is erroneously taken as evidence that air sampling in Hydrogen peroxide gassed Isolators is possible using gelatine filters. Impaction Different types of air samplers use this principle. the higher the requirement for acceleration. Therefore. Validation should address desiccation caused by lengthy sampling periods and/or high air flows and. Herbig et al published that Hydrogen peroxide gassed polyethylene bags containing gelatine filters allowed Bacillus spores to grow when sprayed onto the filters. 2 . • Transport of agar plate/agar slides needs special precautions as they are open systems. The smaller the particle. • Need power supply. Several publications showed that real air sampling in atmospheres with residual hydrogen peroxide leads to inhibition of growth due to accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the water phase. high acceleration will yield higher impaction forces with all particles and may thereby destroy the viability of microorganisms on these particles.
only the sieve plate. 180 • No published data about biological and physical efficiency according to ISO 14698. will be not detected by the sieve sampler system sufficiently. • No hydrogen peroxide neutralising Tryptic Soy media available. expensive pressure adaptor for compressed gasses is offered. • Unused petri-dishes in gastight packages in the isolator have to be discarded after opening. • Heavier than centrifugal samplers. • Transport of agar plates needs special precautions as they are open systems.Sieve Samplers SAS Super 90. The total count is likely to be incorrect due to the omission of the variable amount of spores under 2 µm. that are not supported by biological validation data: The results from Willeke. such as for example gram negatives on McConkey. Spores are mostly in the 1 – 2 µm range. The images therefore. which are mostly in the 1 – 2 µm range.1 from ). • Yield in air sampling is statistically significantly lower than on other sieve plate samplers or centrifugal samplers. • The entire instrument cannot be sterilised. • User has to validate the SAS according to ISO 14698. • Only an inflexible. most likely. (published data from ) 3 . Fig. • Published data has shown that physical efficiency at below 2 µm is less than 10% of modern centrifugal samplers such as the RCS Plus or High Flow (fig. represent directly inoculated microorganisms and are misleading for air sampling. as bile salts enter through the cell wall hole. Spores. 100. • Pictures on the company website show environmental monitoring and images of microorganisms on selective media. Fungal spores may vary widely in concentration over the year and need to be detected reliably.1 : Physical collection efficiencies for the sieve sampler system SAS Super 90 and centrifugal sampler system RCS Plus. demonstrated cell wall destruction of gram negative microorganisms on impact and subsequent inhibition on McConkey.
may disturb air flow resulting in turbulence. • User has to validate the MAS according to ISO 14698. Turbulence may aerosolize microorganisms from surfaces resulting in contamination. • Transport of agar plates needs special precautions. only the sieve plates. • Does not have an optional data download capability to meet cGMP requirements for data traceability. 1% Pyruvate is documented to be inhibitory and gives lowers yield and is therefore not suitable for sensitive detection of low levels of contamination. • Exhaust air leaving the instrument. • No possibility for testing compressed gases. • Special hydrogen peroxide neutralising Tryptic Soy Media (Antiperoxide cassettes) are supplemented with 1% Pyruvate. • No hydrogen peroxide neutralising Tryptic Soy media.MAS 100 • No published data about biological and physical efficiency according to ISO 14698. 4 . • Very expensive additional instrumentation for compressed gases is required. Turbulence may aerosolize microorganisms from surfaces resulting in contamination. • Use has to validate AIR IDEAL according to ISO 14698. yielding higher impact. • Heavier than centrifugal samplers. • Unused petri-dishes in gastight packages in isolators have to be discarded. Turbulence may aerosolize microorganisms from surfaces resulting in contamination. AIR IDEAL • No published data about biological and physical efficiency according to ISO 14698. • Unused petri-dishes in gastight packages in isolators have to be discarded. • Acceleration to a higher speed during the sampling process. may disturb air flow which could result in turbulence. • Plastic heads discolour and may change dimension after repeat autoclaving. has been seen to be critical for viability as outlined in ISO 14698. • Exhaust air which leaves the instrument. have no documented serial number and are expensive. • Plastic heads do not permit NIST traceability of air flow. M AIR T • Although M AIR T uses special agar cassettes as a closed system there is no published data about biological and physical efficiency according to ISO 14698. • No hydrogen peroxide neutralising Tryptic Soy media. • The entire instrument cannot be sterilised. • The entire instrument cannot be sterilised. • User has to validate the M AIR T according to ISO 14698. • Excessive turbulence as air is discharged to the sides of the instrument. • Unused agar cassettes in isolators have to be discarded. • Very expensive additional instrumentation for compressed gases is required. • Heavier than centrifugal samplers. only the sieve plates. • Transport of agar plates needs special precautions as they are open systems. • Transport of agar plates needs special precautions as they are open systems. • Exchange of battery requires a screw driver and is cumbersome.
This completely sterile unit may be taken out of the isolator and used to monitor critical filling operations or media fills. • All air exposed head parts of the instrument are autoclaveable. Fig. 2). Physical sampling efficiency was found to be 100% for 3-4 µm particles sizes and the lowest detection limit of 0. • Centrifugal sampling is the only system with an additionally validated media range according to ISO 14698. • Inexpensive flexible adapter solution for compressed gases. γ-sterile agar strips may be loaded in to the isolator after venting thereby providing a completely sterile air sampling unit. coli ATCC10536 RCS Plus TSM All Glass Impinger C. aerobe bacteria and fungi. luteus Biological validation of RCS High Flow and RCS Plus 5 .4 µm.Centrifugal samplers RCS Plus and High Flow • Completely validated against the different draft versions and final version of ISO 14698. • One special medium using patented hydrogen peroxide and disinfectant neutralising technology on Tryptic Soy is available (TCI-γ). • Only one medium is required to monitor for anaerobes. is sufficient to collect all important bioaerosols. 2: Biological collection efficiencies for centrifugal sampler RCS Plus and RCS High Flow. albicans M. • Airflow is directed downwards at the side of the instruments. gassed agar strips in isolator may be saved for second/third gassing working cycle if left unopened. Biological collection efficiencies was found to be very good and comparable to efficiencies obtainable using the all glass impinger 100 90 78 82 75 70 94 96 80 75 67 67 65 50 48 25 0 RCS High Flow TC RCS High Flow TSM E. • The entire sampler may be sterilised by gassing with Hydrogen peroxide in an Isolator providing a completely sterile instrument. and is validated for all three uses (TCI-γ). Biological collection efficiencies were found to be acceptable and comparable to efficiencies obtained with the all glass impinger (fig. • Easy and safe transport of unused and used agar strips as each strip is housed in its own closed system. • Unused. so this does not disturb unidirectional airflow.
• Impingement is an effective method in the hands of experienced operators who know the system. which need PCR techniques or cell culture for detection. • For comparable consumable costs you should compare the agar media costs to the costly gelatine filters. microbes can be disrupted or separated during sampling and start to grow in the collection fluid which may increase counts. do not require viral monitoring. • The user has to validate the MD8 according to ISO 14698 which appears unachievable for vegetative cells after reviewing published handbooks. After sampling the filter is deposited on agar in a petri dish for recovery of microorganisms. The ASM Manual of Environmental Microbiology cites three publications which say filtration samplers have the disadvantage of viability loss of vegetative cells due to desiccation. • Parameters have to be set and validated. • Accelerative speed may go up to nearly sonic speed. • Monitoring for compressed gases is unavailable. using gelatine filters gassed in bags. is possible. • The machine is able to samples viruses also. • Hydrogen peroxide gassing validation is a surrogate test only. The bottom part is filled with a liquid which can be used for solid agar preparation or for filtration. Buddemeyer claims gelatine filters with 50% water completely eliminate problems with desiccation with agars without providing any validation data. Filtration sampling is used to monitor desiccation resistant forms such as fungal spores or bacterial endospores. Due to the variables the manufacturer is unable to provide such validation. • This means no air sampling in isolators with residual peroxide is possible due to accumulation of toxic peroxide which cannot be neutralised in situ in the filter during sampling. • The instrument cannot be sterilized.Filtration Samplers • The Sartorius MD8 air sampler uses Gelatine in depth Filters with 50% water content. • While the water content of the gelatine filter is enough to accumulate residual hydrogen peroxide in isolators to toxic levels exceeding 100 ppm it is too low (agar has around 95% water content) to allow recovery of vegetative cells. In situ neutralisation of hydrogen peroxide and disinfectants. 6 . The regulations. by additives like catalase in the collection fluid. • No solution for compressed gasses is described. • Whereas filter sampling may be a reference method for sampling spores other methods have to be used in addition if vegetative cells have to be recovered. Impingement is an effective method for various sizes of microorganisms. however. Impingement • An all glass impinger draws air through a suction tube accelerated via a jet at the bottom. then spraying with Bacillus with no real air sampling which revealed the hydrogen peroxide accumulation to toxic levels.
It is the only sampling system that can demonstrate unrestricted use for monitoring of all relevant microorganisms in cleanrooms. 7 . isolators and compressed gases. centrifugal sampling with the RCS Plus and RCS High Flow instruments is the only known sampling system which is completely validated according requirements of ISO 14698.Conclusion In comparison to all known commercial microbial airborne sampling systems.
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