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Clean Rooms vs Sterile Room

For all those dealing with the Clean world for the first time, the terms “Clean Room” and “Sterile Room” may look very similar, or even synonymous. What could mislead you is probably their practically identical construction. But there are considerable differences between a clean and a sterile environment when it comes to the components inside them and their main sectors of application. A significant difference can be found in their primary function, though they are both used to keep the air inside them clean.

What is a Clean Room?

The term “Clean Room” indicates a closed environment that may be used for mechanical, electrical or chemical processes. One of the most important aspects of a Clean Room is the presence of pure air, i.e. air with a very low presence of suspended dust micro-particles. If you want more information, please read our article on Clean Rooms: what are they? What are the guidelines?

What is a Sterile Clean Room?

According to the dictionary, the adjective “sterile” means “in medicine and biology (but also in industrial production, especially of food or pharmaceutical products), something free from germs, micro-organisms and pathogens, mostly following a sterilization process”. Sterility indicates the absence of life, i.e. of germs and bacteria with a high probability of reproduction which may cause diseases. Therefore, sterilization is the chemical or physical procedure that aims at destroying all organisms and large numbers of bacterial spores found on any surface. A “Sterile Room” is a microbiologically controlled Clean Room built in such a way to prevent bacteria, viruses or parasites from being present. In order to create a sterile germ-free environment, operators install chemical sterilization systems and perform microbial tests as well as bacterial load analyses. This is a way to determine how sterile an environment is. These tests can be performed in all those areas where the growth and proliferation of pathogen bacteria may cause great risk.

Difference between Clean Room and Sterile Room: sectors

In addition to having different functions, Clean Rooms and Sterile Rooms also have different primary destinations of use.

Sterile Rooms are used in sectors where the presence of bacteria or germs may pose a danger, therefore in pharmaceutical environments where the presence of bacteria may compromise the products or, in the medical sector, to place patients under observation. Another sector where Sterile Rooms may be needed is Food and Beverage, for the handling of products.

The sectors that do not specifically need a Sterile Room but rather a Clean Room are the micro-electronic, semiconductor, optical and aerospace sectors. These sectors employ “simple” Clean Rooms as they mostly need to control the quantity of suspended dust.