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Safety Risks using Magnetic Systems during Magnetic Separation Processes

When using biomagnetic separation systems, customers are always curious about how to comply with the various health and safety regulations that are in effect. When customers use small systems for a small scale magnetic separation process, there is very little risk from the magnets. The only risk would be if the technician has a pacemaker and in that case, they would be extremely careful around even the smallest system. There is also a small risk of pinching one’s fingers between two magnets.

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In terms of risk other than health, even a small scale magnet can erase your computer’s magnetic hard drive, so computers need to be shielded and/or kept far from the device.

This post is about the safety risks of Magnetic Bead Separation in the production of magnetic beads for IVD kits. If you want to know its most important elements, download our free eBook The basic guide to use Magnetic Bead Separation in production processes:

Dangers and risks related to the Magnetic Separation Process

When a customer uses Magnetic Bead Separation systems for production, it implies that one is using a large system that can generate very strong magnetic fields. In this case, the system can cause real harm and so workers and technicians should be on much higher alert than with smaller systems. Typically two areas are defined for magnetic systems: the caution area and the danger area.

  • The danger area is defined as the area where the magnetic field is higher than 3mT (30 Gauss). In the danger area, there is considerable risk of injuries due to mechanical problems. Forces from the magnets are so large that they can easily attract steel objects or tools and magnets can attract each other strongly. It is not a rare occurrence for workers to suffer from broken bones or a loss of fingers when precautions are not followed strictly.
  • The caution area is where the magnetic field is less than 3 mT, but more than 0.5 mT (5 Gauss). In this area, people with pacemakers are at risk and magnetic storage devices or electronic devices are at risk.

Standard Magnetic Bead Separation systems are open systems that allow large stray fields measuring as caution or danger zones as defined above. Therefore, there is a need to designate a large area surrounding standard devices so that safety areas can be delineated, even if the area is a clean room.

Alternatively, newer technologies apply closed systems with a very low level of stray fields, therefore with much smaller danger and caution areas. These devices should be used in places where space and/or safety is an issue.

If you found this post about using Magnetic Bead Separation for production useful, don’t forget to check these related posts:

Check to access to FREE eBooks on the subject, or contact us. We will be glad to help you to achieve an efficient magnetic bead separation process!

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Lluis M. Martínez | SEPMAG Chief Scientific Officer

Founder of SEPMAG, Lluis holds a PhD in Magnetic Materials by the UAB. He has conducted research at German and Spanish academic institutions. Having worked in companies in Ireland, USA and Spain, he has more than 20 years of experience applying magnetic materials and sensors to industrial products and processes. He has filed several international patents on the field and co-authored more than 20 scientific papers, most of them on the subject of magnetic particle movement.

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