Kristina Etter   |   July 30, 2021

Cleanroom Technology for Cannabis Production

As consumers become more aware of contaminants and pathogens in their products, it’s crucial for the cannabis and hemp industries to take note.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

**Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links for some products. Cannabis Tech makes a small commission from the sale of these items. We appreciate your support of our publication!

Cleanroom technology is just as critical for cannabis and hemp producers as it is for other CPG items, like foods, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals. As increasing regulations loom for both burgeoning industries, maintaining clean, contaminant-free production facilities will be vital.

Blame it on the pandemic, but 2020 increased our awareness of cleanliness and decontamination. Understanding the conditions required for growing and processing cannabis and hemp, we know this type of tropical environment is ripe for bacteria and fungus growth.

While there are tests for detecting pathogens and technologies for irradicating them, the best practice is to simply avoid these contaminants altogether by employing cleanroom technology.

Proactively Preventing Pathogens with Clean Room Technology

Many cannabis and hemp producers have accepted that as a consumable agricultural crop, used both for medicinal properties as well as a recreational intoxicant; there will be very high standards set for cannabis and hemp production. Grown in poor conditions, with the wrong pesticides, or in contaminated soils, the plants can absorb toxins. Improper HVAC systems can encourage mold and fungus growth. Even the humans working with the plants can carry potential hazards into the grow room.

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent crop loss and keep production facilities free and clear of contaminants.

Personal Protective Equipment

Before 2020, unless you were in the medical industry, PPE was an unheard acronym. However, in cannabis grow rooms, protective coveralls, face masks, as well as, hair and shoe covers help prevent human cross-contamination. Requiring specific gowning procedures prevents hair and dead skin cells from floating through the air and landing on the flowers.

Additionally, many passionate cannabis workers may grow their own cannabis at home. If their plants have any bacteria or pathogens, they can bring them to work on their clothing, shoes, and hands. Shoe soles can carry in a plethora of problems. PPE helps keep the commercial facility clear of any accidental contamination from the staff.

Air Showers

If you want to take decontaminating your employees one step further, install an air shower. Using high-pressure air jets in an enclosed space, an air shower blows particles such as cells, dandruff, spores, mites, and contaminants off of the individual, and then the air is evacuated, filtered, and recirculated.

Using an air shower in addition to requiring PPE, human contamination factors are significantly reduced.

CO2 Spray Treatments

When cleaning surfaces, chemical cleaners can be harsh and hazardous to the plants and your staff. CO2 composite sprays are an economical and versatile clean manufacturing solution.

The PowerSnow CO2 Spray Treatment System by CleanLogix generates a particle spray using pressurized, temperature-controlled air, nitrogen gas, or dry air containing micronized CO2 particles to remove contaminants from surfaces and tools.

HVAC, Room Pressure and Air Filtration

Naturally, removing airborne contaminants is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days. Installing the proper filtration systems is critical for indoor agricultural operations. Humid conditions can increase the opportunity for molds and fungus. However, external ventilation can create a negative pressure space allowing for molds to spread easily.

Creating a positive pressure environment helps push molds and fungus out, rather than sucking them in from other rooms or the outside. Commercial growers should work with their HVAC providers to design a system to accomplish a positive pressure room.

Air Purification Systems

Technologies being used in NASA space stations are also now available for businesses such as cannabis cultivation facilities. Purify Central offers active air purification systems using active purification technology that works differently than passive air filters. In fact, this device doesn’t filter the air at all; instead, it releases neutralizing particles into the room.

Using light waves and a catalytic process to produce superoxide ions and hydroperoxides, the innovative new device destroys surface and airborne contaminants, viruses, molds, and fungus almost immediately.

Mandates and Requirements are Coming

The visionaries in cannabis and hemp know that regulation is coming, and when it does, they want to be ahead of the curve. Rather than play catch-up, they want to lead the way.

Compliance and cleanliness are essential for consumer safety and are a significant portion of any CPG product. As consumers, we are reliant on regulations and product testing to ensure we are consuming safe products.

Technology and awareness are not only helping alert consumers to potential hazards in the products they buy, but they also help producers prevent losses due to contamination and gain the trust of their clientele.

 

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