Flooring and myths

As a prelude to the CleanRooms West '99 conference panel, “The great floor debate: cleanroom mats vs polymeric flooring,” included in this edition is a general and practical article on how to choose cleanroom flooring (pg. 22).

The article, contributed by László Kende of Swiss flooring maker Forbo-Giubiasco SA, covers materials, composition and properties of the major kinds of cleanroom flooring. And it highlights the need “to do your own thinking,” as Kende puts it, before choosing cleanroom flooring [see “Simple truths,” CleanRooms, Sept. 99, pg. 6]. This article does not address the topic of the panel debate, which will take place on Tuesday, November 2, during the CleanRooms West conference at the San Jose convention center. Watch for next month's edition of CleanRooms, which will include a summary of the debate and of the merits of both polymeric flooring and peel-off mats as tools to combat contamination.

The debate is important because it highlights-via the example of flooring-a fundamental issue of contamination control technology: you will more often find yourself facing gray areas rather than black or white ones. Convincing and well-documented arguments about a product or process are often met with equally convincing and equally well-documented counterarguments. Which is right? Well, it depends on your application, to begin with, but it also depends on the demands you place on your cleanroom, the way you run it and maintain it, and the instruction you give and behavior you tolerate from the people who work in it. Whether you place polymeric flooring or peel-off mats at the entrance to your cleanroom, their effectiveness is limited by people's willingness to use them.

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So it goes with many aspects of contamination control technology: gowning protocol, design/build methods, wiper effectiveness, ESD control, etc. The number of variables combined with the size and physical properties of particles and molecules assails our ability to control an environment. And because we can't control it absolutely, we are left to ponder the matters that frustrate us, sometimes in an attempt to be philosophical where we are unable to be as knowledgeable as we'd like. It is from this place-somewhere between science and philosophy-that myths are born. The myths are important because of the way they take root and spread. Our “Debunking the Myth” column (pg 70), written by Dick Matthews of Filtration Technology Inc., is a steadfast attempt to examine the myths we hear about and put them in an informed perspective. Since the column debuted last Spring, Dick has taken on such myths as “Cleanrooms are only for the rich and famous” “It must be clean-it's a cleanroom,” “The big guys control the cleanroom business,” “The little guys control the cleanroom business,” “The new ISO cleanroom standards won't affect me,” and “Managers and engineers do not shed particles.” Dick is all warmed up now and ready to take on the myths of your cleanroom staff. Submit a myth you would like to have debunked in these pages by email to: [email protected].
George D. Miller
Editorial Director


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