Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Gender influences bacterial contamination of reusable cleanroom operators’ garments following wear.

Smith, Laurie M.; O� Driscoll, No�lle H.; Lamb, Andrew J.


No�lle H. O� Driscoll

Andrew J. Lamb


Background: Operators are the primary source of cleanroom contamination, with the majority of their detritus identified as skin squames and their associated microorganisms. To reduce contamination, operatives are required to wear a specific arrangement of specialist garments. However, bacteria can evade this clothing and tarnish outer surfaces whilst operators work, with adverse implication for cleanroom environment and product sterility. Gender plays a significant role in bacterial dispersion, with male rates being in excess of female counterparts. Currently there is a lack of published literature evaluating the effect of gender on contamination of cleanroom garments. Such information would assist cleanroom facilities to more robustly assess and mitigate operator-associated contamination risks. Aim: To compare bacterial contamination on the surface of cleanroom operators’ garments, specifically with respect to gender. Method: Levels of bacteria on garments worn by male and female operators working under two conditions (30 minutes: Grade A/B cleanroom and 60 minutes: Grade C cleanroom) were compared. Immediately following the operators’ exit from the cleanroom, a direct agar contact method was undertaken at several sites on the surface of their garments. Findings: Bacteria were recovered from the surface of garments worn by both genders. Bacterial levels on garments worn by male operators were almost always in excess of those worn by females at all sites tested (Percentage of plates displaying growth: Grade A/B – 83.9%/63.3% and Grade C – 86.1%/70.1%, respectively) [*p[less than]0.05]. Regardless of gender, bacterial levels at the chest and posterior cervicis region of suits were reduced with the donning of a hood, covering the head. Conclusions: Gender plays a significant role in bacterial contamination of cleanroom garment surfaces, with bacteria on the surface of clothing worn by males being in excess of that on garments worn by female counterparts. In addition, the donning of a hood reduces bacterial numbers on suits. These findings add to the limited body of knowledge examining bacterial contamination of cleanroom garments and contribute towards understanding operator-associated contamination risks within cleanroom facilities.


SMITH, L.M., O'DRISCOLL, N.H. and LAMB, A.J. 2020. Gender influences bacterial contamination of reusable cleanroom operators’ garments following wear. European journal of parenteral and pharmaceutical sciences [online], 25(2), article 2. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 9, 2020
Publication Date Jun 30, 2020
Deposit Date Mar 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 19, 2021
Journal European Journal of Parenteral and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Print ISSN 0964 4679
Electronic ISSN 2633-6588
Publisher PHSS (Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Sciences Society)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
Article Number 2
Keywords Gender; Cleanroom; Clothing; Operators; Bacteria; Contamination
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations