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 control procedures.
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 and sauces.
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
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