The American Society for Microbiology recently held their annual meeting in Boston, USA. ASM is a much respected society and their annual general meeting attracts over 10,000 visitors to view more than 3,500 scientific posters, attend 250 seminars & workshops and visit 270 exhibitors. I was lucky enough to visit the 2013 event in Denver and then again in Boston for ASM 2014. The scale of the event dwarfs any meeting we have in the UK, but I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise!
SAS microbial air samplers in the USA
One of the exhibitors at the event is the US distributor for the yellow SAS active air samplers, Bioscience International. Peter Pratt and his team have been promoting and selling the SAS units for over 25 years. They have much experience within pharma environmental monitoring. In fact within the industrial sector, the yellow SAS is a widely adopted solution - dare I say an industry standard.
The role of microbial air samplers in environmental monitoring
It is interesting however that within hospital pharmacy compounding, the UK leads the way with regards to regulation and strict guidance around environmental monitoring. This sector within the US market is adopting new guidance, primarily driven by USP797. This again was a subject of much discussion at ASM in the Bioscience booth. Increasing the frequency of environmental monitoring and not relying on external contractors was also discussed frequently. Changes within USP797 are also focusing on media type for EM. There appears to be a move towards single media type for both bacteria and fungi. The attributes of a portable air sampler were also of interest, notably battery life and weight. The battery pack should obviously provide plenty of sampling potential, but how long is enough? And weight of the instrument can be at the expense of the robustness of the instrument. Balancing these requirements is always a compromise.
In the UK of course, GMP is the main driving force and is being more widely adopted and used within hospital pharmacy units and the commercial compounding companies. A sound environmental monitoring regime and rationale is key to the successful deployment of GMP. An industry standard microbial air sampler will be a key component of the monitoring program. This device needs to be reliable, reproducible and accepted by regulatory bodies as being fit for purpose. The yellow SAS is a proven microbial sampler with over 20 years of track record within the global pharma sector.
You can read the case study reporting Portsmouth Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Unit's experience of using SAS air samplers from Cherwell Laboratories. They have been using them as part of their environmental monitoring programme for over 20 years.