You may have heard the terms controlled environment and cleanroom used interchangeably throughout your industry. However, what you may not realize is that there is a crucial difference between the two terms that could be important to know and understand when talking with other users or clients. Here’s what you need to know about a controlled environment and a cleanroom.

Controlled Environment

A controlled environment, also referred to as a critical environment, is an area that needs certain parameters controlled like pressure, temperature and segregation. Humidity control may also be required, but it is not common for these environments. Another major factor is that controlled environments do not need to meet standards for particle contamination.


Cleanrooms are like controlled environments, but the major difference is that cleanrooms have strict requirements that need to be met. Like controlled environments, cleanrooms require pressure, temperature and segregation control, but these need to be controlled to specific standards. Particle control is key to these cleanrooms. They are classified by the maximum acceptable number of particles, by size, in the air per cubic meter.

Cleanrooms also require more regular testing for compliance with their classification, and need more energy, air and advanced technology to maintain the required conditions.

Which One Do I Need?

Now that you know the two major differences between controlled environments and cleanrooms, you may be asking yourself, “which one do I need then?” This will depend on two factors: your application and your industry.

For example, if you’re packaging medical devices, you’ll need a cleanroom that follows strict requirements. However, if you have a control laboratory for chrome plating, you generally won’t be required to meet specific ISO classifications, but will need a controlled environment. It’s also possible to have different requirements within the same facility, meaning you may be required to have both a controlled environment and a cleanroom. A great example of this is the need for a controlled storage environment, where everything must be clean and up to standard, but also requires a high ISO class for quality control testing.


Now that you know the differences between a controlled environment and a cleanroom, you can better prepare yourself for the type of equipment you’ll need in your lab.

Need a hand in keeping that equipment clean and up to standards? Hire Air Safe, where we handle all cleaning and repairs for biosafety cabinets, equipment and more. To learn more about our services, then contact us so we can get your equipment functioning the way it should.

Patient, product, personnel and environmental safety are not negotiable!

Email or call the Air Safe office if you have any questions and check back for the field technician update next month!