University of Rochester

Environmental Health & Safety

Occupational Safety Unit

Sonicator Safety

Sonicators are high-frequency sound generators used to disrupt cells or shear nucleic acids. Laboratory personnel must be concerned about two of the major hazards associated with sonicators. The first hazard is hearing damage caused by high frequency sound. The second hazard is the generation of aerosols from the sonication process.

Sonicators generate sound waves in the 20,000 Hz range. These sonicator-generated sound waves are outside the normal range of hearing. Often the sound heard while using a sonicator is produced by cavitations of the liquid in the sample container or vibrations from loose equipment. Actions you can take to reduce the hazards include:

Blending, Grinding, Sonicating, Lyophilizing

The greatest hazard when using sonicating and other equipment to disrupt cells or shear nucleic acids is the creation of aerosols. These aerosols are generated by cavitations of the sonicator horn in the sample media and mechanical mixing. The following guidelines should be followed.

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 8/15/2012. Disclaimer.