Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring

Your Environmental Monitoring System (EMS) is your first line of defense against contamination – and you should have the utmost trust in it. Here at LWS, we pave the way in clean air technology with over 40 years of expertise. We design our clean air technology around your needs, predicting what you need before you know you need it. Our goal is to make your life easier and your cleanroom safer. 


The fundamentals of particle counters are relatively simple. You need to know how and why they work. If you have a basic grasp of these fundamentals, you’ll be on your way to better understanding particle counters.

An aerosol particle counter works on the principal of either light scattering or light blocking. An aerosol stream is drawn through a chamber with a light source (either Laser Based Light or White Light). When a particle is illuminated by this light beam, it is redirected or absorbed. Light scattered by a single particle in a specific direction in relation to the original direction has a unique signature which relates to the size of the particle. This allows for sizing and counting of individual particles.

A particle counter is made up of 4 components:

  1. Light Source (Gas Based Laser, Solid State Laser Diode, High Intensity Light)
  2. Photo Detection Electronics
  3. Sample Flow System
  4. Counting Electronics

Often the selection of a particle counter for use in a cleanroom is done based upon the specifications and cost of the instrument.

Before getting into the details of the specifications it is important to look at what the instrument will be used for, the environments it will be used in, and who will be using the instrument. Without this information taken into consideration, a less then optimal choice of particle counter for the application could be made. Here are some items to consider prior to selecting a particle counter:

What type of environment will the particle counter be used in? Will it be used in an ISO Class 3 Cleanroom for routine particle counting or will it be used for verifying a flow bench is operating prior to a critical process?

What type of data is the particle counter expected to collect? Will this information be recorded as simple pass/fail or will the information have to be logged into a spreadsheet or database?

Will the operator be carrying the particle counter around and placing it on a critical work surface or will it be cart mounted?

Will this particle counter be used to certify cleanrooms and travel from location to location?

Will the particle counter be used to monitor the cleanroom on a continuous basis? Is the particle counter intended to interface with a Facility Monitoring System (FMS)?


Though all manufacturers use the same principle, the details of the design are what set one manufacturer apart from the rest. Things like sample flow rate, sensitivity, size range and number of counting channels, durability of the laser or laser diode, lifetime of the light source, the ability to hold calibration all are important factors to consider.

Sensitivity: The smallest size particle that can be detected.

Zero Count Level or False Count Rate: The number of falsely reported particles using filtered air at the optimum flow rate for a given amount of time. The correct reporting of this is number of particles per 5 minutes. (Expected Zero Count rate should be less then 1 count per 5 minutes)

Counting Efficiency: The ratio of the measured particle concentration to the true particle concentration. The true particle concentration is measured with a more sensitive instrument that has a counting efficiency of 100% at the minimum particle size of the instrument under test. A properly designed instrument should have a 50% counting efficiency.

Channels: This is the number of “bins” the particles are placed in based upon the respective size of each particle counted. Channels are represented in microns. For example, you may have a particle counter with 4 channels. This means that the particles can be counted and binned in 4 different channels. Examples of channels are: 0.1 µm , 0.2 µm , 0.3 µm, 0.5 µm , 1.0 µm , 5.0 µm .

Flow Rate: This is the amount of air that passes through the particle counter. This is typically represented in cubic feet per minute. Common flow rates are 1.0 cfm and 0.1cfm. The greater the flow rate, the larger the pump to pull the air and the bigger the particle counter.

All too often minimum size is chosen over the other criteria. Though this is an important consideration, other parameters should also be considered.

Typically the more sensitive instrument, the higher the initial investment, and the higher the maintenance cost. If the instrument is used in environments with extremely high concentration of particles, it may require frequent cleanings by service technicians.

By understanding the intended use of the particle counter and the specifications, a more educated decision can be made when selecting a particle counter.

Liquid particle counters are important tools used in various industries to measure and monitor the concentration and size distribution of particles in liquid samples. These particles can be contaminants or impurities that can affect the quality of the product or the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Liquid particle counters can be used in industries such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food and beverage, semiconductor, and water treatment.

The importance of liquid particle counters lies in their ability to provide accurate and reliable measurements of particle size and concentration in liquid samples. This information is critical for quality control, process optimization, and troubleshooting in manufacturing processes. Liquid particle counters can help identify potential problems early on, reducing the risk of product recalls, equipment failures, and costly downtime.

To choose the best liquid particle counter, you should consider several factors such as the size range of particles you need to measure, the concentration of particles in your sample, the type of liquid you are testing, the required sensitivity and accuracy of the instrument, and the level of automation and ease of use. You should also consider the cost of the instrument, maintenance requirements, and the level of technical support provided by the manufacturer.

Some key features to look for when selecting a liquid particle counter include:

  • Particle size range and detection limit: ensure that the instrument can detect the size range of particles you need to measure, and that it has a low enough detection limit to accurately measure the concentration of particles in your sample.

  • Sample volume and flow rate: make sure the instrument can handle the volume and flow rate of your sample, and that it can provide accurate measurements over the entire sample volume.

  • Instrument sensitivity and accuracy: choose an instrument with high sensitivity and accuracy to ensure reliable and consistent measurements.

  • Automation and ease of use: look for an instrument that is easy to use and provides automated features such as self-cleaning, data storage, and report generation.

  • Maintenance requirements and technical support: consider the cost and frequency of maintenance required, and the level of technical support provided by the manufacturer.

Overall, choosing the best liquid particle counter depends on your specific needs and requirements. It is important to carefully evaluate different options and consult with experts to ensure you select an instrument that will provide reliable and accurate measurements for your application.