By Richard A. Renehan
Decontamination and decommissioning were the hot topics of discussion at the recently concluded annual conferences and exposition of the American Glovebox Society (AGS) held in San Antonio, Texas.
Scientists and end users from the United States Department of Energy, NASA and the United States Department of Defense mingled with commercial users and engineers from industry-leading glovebox designers and fabricators to discuss designs, procedures and experiences as well as proper standards for decontamination and decommissioning.
The AGS also reported on the progress of its Standards Committee where Standards of Practice are being written for “The Specification of Glovebox Gloves,” “The Design and Fabrication of Containment Gloveboxes for Materials that Emit Low Penetrating Ionizing Radiation,” “Glovebox Fire Protection,” and “Leak Testing of Gloveboxes.” (Go to http://www.gloveboxsociety.org/ for contact information on detailed updates.)
The AGS also announced that the Glove Specification (AGS-G005-2003) should be published before January. If any end users would like to contribute to the publication of these documents, contact Dean Shipley at Oak Ridge National Labs (865-574-2967).
This year's advanced training was a full day affair, covering topics on sealing, cleaning, packing and shipping contaminated gloveboxes and materials, as well as the ultimate closing of associated research and production sites. An open forum covering decon/decom allowed sharing of ideas and experiences of experts from various national laboratories, glovebox experts and clean-up contractors from across the country.
Exhibitor highlights included a miniature glovebox approximately 10″ long and 5″ deep and high from Purified Micro Environments, push-through ports from CRL and La Calhene, and advanced chemical protection coatings for gloveboxes by Fisher/Moore. (The chemical-resistant coating adds a Kynar finish and improves chemical resistance, cleanliness and accuracy inside gloveboxes.)
Great show, but…
Although the show offered a healthy exchange of technology and design ideas, the overriding issues that are hindering the growth of this market remained untouched. When will the convergence of glovebox and isolator experts begin? There is an immediate need for these critical parties to share knowledge for the advancement of safety, ergonomics and productivity in industry and research. What is the future for combining experiences and standards of varied applications to offer an advanced knowledge base for designers, fabricators and users of gloveboxes?
The great convergence can begin once key industry “thought leaders” begin thinking in lock step. The PDA, ISPE, and AGS have extensive glovebox expertise, and the knowledge base is deep and advanced in nuclear, electronics, pharmaceutical, medical, chemical and research arenas. These Associations have similar goals and objectives: Protect products and processes inside the chamber or protect people and the environment outside the chamber.
Perhaps now is the time for the AGS to emerge as the “common ground” for unifying efforts towards protecting people, processes and products in controlled environments. The AGS continues to update standards for practice, design and use of glovebox technology, and our members research, write and report on all of the issues facing glovebox and isolator usage and implementation.
We are a critical aspect of the future of contamination control. We include members from the most advanced laboratories and production facilities in the world and we solicit the active participation of anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves (and gloves) and work together.
RICHARD A. RENEHAN is president of Renco Corp. He can be contacted at: [email protected]