Safety for worker health and the environment – Why powder containment matters?Powder containment is necessary in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry as various chemicals undergo multiple processes that may change their composition. Depending on the composition of chemicals and their application, some of them may be sensitive to environmental conditions that can cause unstable reactions, and some may also be harmful to workers' health when exposed. Some risks in handling powders include explosion at high temperatures, allergic reactions or respiratory illnesses if inhaled by operators, and damage to the environment due to the toxicity of chemicals. Standard regulations are established for pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers to follow to ensure proper containment of chemicals, such as the U.S FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Process (cGMPs), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Association, and National Fire Protection Association. FDA requires pharmaceutical and chemical products to be safe for consumption or use. EPA regulations require manufacturers to properly dispose of chemicals and keep emissions in manufacturing at acceptable levels. OSHA deals with workers’ safety in handling toxic and hazardous waste where operators are required to use proper safety equipment for specific chemicals. NFPA requires manufacturers to follow regulations regarding possible fire risks or explosions.
Handling of powders from loading to disposal
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Containment technology for specific applicationsMultiple technologies are available for handling and containing hazardous and sensitive powder products, including transfer systems, isolators, flexible containment bags, safety cabinets, enclosures, and filling and discharging systems. Transfer systems include valves and ports that control the transfer of products from equipment to a container and vice versa while providing a tight seal around the access points to avoid spillage.
Food processing, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and morePowder containment systems are widely used in different industries for safety purposes and to provide excellent product quality. Pharmaceutical industry applications for powder containment include mixing and blending active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). Additionally, tablet and capsule manufacturing processes necessitate high-level containment systems to maintain the sterility of materials and ingredients used to produce medications. These stringent containment measures are essential to ensure pharmaceutical products' safety, efficacy, and quality.
Clean and safe food processingFood processing facilities need to comply with food safety regulations set by government agencies like the FDA and USDA to guarantee the consumers that the products are safe for consumption. Other agencies such as OSHA and NFPA also have regulations for the safe operation of food processing facilities. These regulations promote safety practices within the manufacturing area, including proper containment to avoid cross-contamination and health issues such as allergic reactions and respiratory illness due to inhalation of powders.
Containment practices in the pharmaceutical industryPharmaceutical companies handle a lot of chemicals that may be harmful to workers when these chemicals are exposed in an open working environment. Other pharmaceutical products may also degrade when exposed to the same working environment due to possible contamination. Either way, pharmaceutical products require stringent containment practices to maintain a safe working environment and to avoid contamination of powder products like pharmaceuticals, protein, collagen, and dry inhaler powders.
Hazardous chemical powder handling
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Innovations of containment solutionsAs more chemicals are developed, pharmaceutical and chemical industries seek ways to improve aseptic production to keep up with stringent regulations. An example is using single use (SU) technology to improve sterile production and product integrity, as this technology requires the item used in production to be disposed of after a single use. A disposable version of a split butterfly valve (SBV) is one item using SU technology. The valve is used for the sterile transfer of powders into and out of the equipment. The SBV is made up of 2 components where one component is connected to the equipment and the other attached to a filling container. The component attached to the filling container doesn’t need to be cleaned, as it will be disposed of after filling single-use flexible bags. Manufacturers are also looking into smart technology where the facilities can be monitored in real-time from a mobile device, including the valves used in production lines. This technology allows manufacturers to identify the containment systems that may require preventive maintenance to help minimize downtime. Eco-friendly solutions include using low-energy consumption motors and frequency inverters to power isolators and other equipment.
Dealing with Powder Containment challenges
Video on powder containment systems
Split Butterfly Valve for safe transfer of hazardous and active (HPAPI) solids
Contained Single Use Transfer Bags for Containment solids handling
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