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SOP for Evaluation of Compressed Air in Manufacturing of Pharmaceutical Products

Standard operating procedure to determine the microbial quality of compressed air used in Pharmaceutical manufacturing.


       To lay down a procedure for evaluation of compressed air in manufacturing of Pharmaceutical products.

2.0  SCOPE:

       This SOP shall be applicable for analyse compressed air microbiologically whether it is suitable for use or not.




       Head -QA & QC


5.1  Requirements:

5.1.1  Equipments: Flow meter, 0.45 µ filter papers, sterile pipettes, sterile petridishes, filtration unit, assembly for collecting the sample for microbial analysis.
5.1.2  Media & Chemicals: Sterilized at 121˚C for 20 minutes or as per instructions given on pack.
•  Soybean casein digest medium (3x100 ml).
•  Soybean casein digest agar
•  MacConkey's agar
•  Levine eosin methylene blue agar                                               
•  BBS agar
•  TSI agar
•  Xylose lysine deoxycholate agar
•  EE broth
•  Mannitol salt agar
•  Vogel-Johnson agar
•  Baird Parker Agar
•  Cetrimide agar
•  Pseudomonas agar(for Pyocyanin & fluorescein)                                       
•  Violet red bile glucose agar      
•  Rappaport vassiliadis salmonella enrichment medium
•  GN broth
•  Reinforced medium
•  Columbia agar
•  Peptone water
•  Urea broth

5.2  Method:

5.2.1  The compressed air is tested for total viable microbial count.
5.2.2  Clean the flow meter with 70% IPA, allow it to dry properly. Connect one end of the flow meter to the outlet of compressed air, start pressure pump & set flow in such a way that niddle of the flow meter will adjust to 40 (i.e. 40 lit. air/min) & after setting this flow connect second end of the flow meter to the flask containing 100 ml sterile soybean casein digest medium. Allow the air to flow through the medium for 25 min so that 1000 lit air get sampled.  Disconnect the flask of SCDM from flow meter, plug it properly & then tested for total viable microbial count.
5.2.3  Take out 100 ml from this SCDM in duplicate & filter separately through sterile 0.45 µ filter paper. After each filtration wash the filter paper with 50 ml sterile normal saline.
5.2.4  Keep these filter papers separately on the surface of two sterile solidified soybean casein digest agar plates. Incubate these plates at 30°C-35 °C for 5 days.  After incubation count no. of cfu developed on each filter paper.  Consider maximum count on SCDA as No. of cfu/1000 lts. of compressed air.
5.2.5  Secondly allow to pass another 1000 lit  of this air in 100 ml of sterile  Soybean  casein digest medium and incubate the medium at 30-35 °C for 24 hours. After incubation carry out detection of Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa & Staphylococcus aureus from soybean casein digest Medium by transferring a loopful from it on the surface of following selective media.
5.2.6  Invert these plates and incubate at 30-35 °C for 48 hours.  After incubation observe the plates for colony characteristics (if developed). For further confirmation carry out confirmatory test or gram staining if necessary. If none of the colonies confirms to the description  for respective medium, the compressed air meets the requirement of the test for absence of respective pathogen.
5.2.7  Compressed air used in manufacturing of pharmaceutical products must be treated as raw material and due to this at the point of use it is analysed microbiologically to determine it's suitability for use.

Related: SOP for Sterility Testing of Compressed Air, Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide

5.3  Limits:

Total microbial count Limit – NMT 100 cfu/m3
Pathogens - Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus should be absent  in 1000 lit.
Note: In each step of the procedure also carry out positive & negative controls along with the test controls.


SOP : Standard Operating Procedure
QA : Quality Assurance
QC : Quality Control
NA : Not Applicable

Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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