Our usual activity is
airborne and surface monitoring of allergens levels in the
workplace. However, we were recently asked by a leading UK
manufacturer of cleaning products for help. They wanted to confirm
that, in their production processes, their non-biological
detergents products were indeed free from the enzyme additives used
in their 'biological' products.
Enzymes are added to 'biological' cleaning products in small
quantities to improve their cleaning action and stain removal
properties. Proteases are commonly used in this role and, whilst
efficient, many are allergenic. Although safe when used
correctly, some consumers do not use biological products for
reasons of health or choice.
What We Did
We quickly established that one of our in-house developed
antisera was appropriate for detecting the protease of interest,
and an effective immunoassay was developed with sub-ng/ml
sensitivity. Detergents in a concentrated form tend to be
aggressive chemical mixtures, often with high alkaline pHs, and
would normally be unsuitable for measurement by an immunoassay.
However, our experience of developing allergen methods appropriate
for the very low levels found in air samples meant that we soon had
an assay capable of detecting the protease at the low ppb levels in
concentrated detergent by diluting out the detergent's potential
deleterious effects on the assay. The sensitivity of around 10ppb
adequately met the client's needs.
The client was keen that we could turnaround results from
submitted samples on a timescale that did not interfere with their
production deadlines. This has involved us modifying our normal
sample turnaround time and maintaining a close working relationship
with the company.
The company have been able to demonstrate that their
non-biological products are essentially free of this particular
protease, giving confidence in their production methods and quality
Currently we are seeing if we can undertake similar monitoring
for another enzyme (amylase) that the customer uses in some of
their biological products to remove starchy stains such as gravy
We are happy to apply our skills in high sensitivity
immunoassays to support product quality control issues. Please
contact us if you think we might be able to help.
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