In the pharmaceutical industry, contaminants can be a nightmare.

A good way to avoid them is to know and understand the types of contamination, but also how to best avoid them.

How can you know what contaminants exist in your facility? What are ways to prevent contaminants from wreaking havoc on your products?

If you are interested in getting more information about contaminants and how to prevent exposure in your facility, keep reading to see what you can find out.

What Is Contamination in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

Contamination is the idea that unwanted things, like dust, dirt, or debris, are present during manufacturing or transportation of a product. In the pharmaceutical industry, this happens more often than you would probably like to think about.

Any unwanted matter that is found within the product is a type of contamination, but it can come from different sources. Any contamination is going to impact the quality of the product, regardless of how much or how little it may be.

Common contaminants are physical, chemical, or biological and can pose a significant threat to the safety of pharmaceuticals.

Types of Contamination

There are three main types of contamination to consider in pharmaceutical manufacturing and transportation. When you think about types of contaminants, consider which category they may fall into and how dangerous they may actually be.

What is Physical Contamination in Pharmaceuticals?

Physical contamination would be physical objects that contaminate the food. An example of this is dirt or debris that falls into the product after it has been manufactured or while it is being packaged.

The risk of physical contamination can be reduced by ensuring that products and supplies are stored securely and employees understand proper procedures.

Chemical Contamination Examples

Chemical contamination is when the product comes into contact with a chemical that may lead to chemical poisoning if the product is ingested. This could be a variety of things, as there are chemicals in many of the items used around pharmaceuticals.

The dangers of chemical contamination are important to consider, especially if the chemicals are extremely harmful to humans.

Some of the types of chemical contamination include:

  • Contamination by heavy metal particles or other elements
  • Cleaning agent contamination including bleach
  • Oils, petrol, or diesel, as well as other hydrocarbons
  • Preservatives and colors
  • Cross-contamination

Biological Contamination in Pharmaceuticals

Biological contamination occurs if bacteria, fungi, or other toxins and can be a common cause of poisoning or spoilage in pharmaceuticals.

The causes of biological contamination generally come from employees that are handling the pharmaceutical. This could include unhygienic practices, improper work attire, or open lesions in operators of the equipment.

Other causes may be contaminated materials or equipment, which result in not being properly cleaned or not being cleaned correctly.

Sources of Contamination

If you are aware of a contaminant in your pharmaceutical product, you may not know where it came from right away.

The source of contamination can be difficult to track down if it wasn’t witnessed. The good news is that you can have a contamination analysis completed in order to narrow it down and identify the source. This will identify all contaminants and where they came from as the company works with you to find the source.

When you know the source of contamination, you can prevent it from happening again in the future. Reducing the chance of it happening again is important because our pharmaceutical products need to be safe for consumers.

Causes of Contamination in Relation to Source

If you know the common ways to reduce contamination in your facility, you can lessen the number of times it happens. Understanding the causes of contamination will help you have a healthier and safer work environment as well!

1. Employee Errors

Although a lot of the work that is done now is handled by machines, human operators still come in contact with different parts of the process.

Even the cleanest place in the world can become contaminated by someone that doesn’t wash their hands, doesn’t use the right protective equipment, or doesn’t do the job correctly.

2. Inadequate Conditions

Even if employees are going to keep things clean, they can’t do their job correctly if their conditions are not good to work in.

Access to clean toilets and washing facilities that work correctly are vital.

In addition, it is important to remember that unsanitary conditions are going to create problems in each stage of the pharmaceutical manufacturing, packaging, and transporting process.

3. Poor Process

Uncleanliness of the environment, raw materials touching external surfaces, and poor instructions to employees can result in contamination.

Effective containment solutions and clear direction can help to reduce the amount of contamination that may occur. Materials and products need to be safely contained in order to be secure from contaminants.

4. Lack of Maintenance

When the machines are not working well, the whole process is not going to work well. You have to maintain your machinery in order for contamination to be avoided. Otherwise, nickel, iron, and other particles are easily going to find their way into the product.

Machinery becomes corroded over time when it is used often without being maintained well. These things need to be fixed before production can continue or you risk contamination.

Pharmaceutical Contamination Safety: What’s Next?

Now that you know some of the types of contamination in pharmaceuticals, you are more likely to be able to avoid them in your work.

In some instances, contamination can be dangerous and even life-threatening, so it is not something to take lightly. Contamination can mean lawsuits and loss of money for a pharmaceutical business.

If you would like to learn more about dust collector bags to avoid this contaminant in the future, check out our blog post to see what you can find.