Probe sonicators use ultrasound to disrupt biological materials. People that are familiar with sonicators are well aware of the fact that hearing protection is required for employees working with probe sonicators outside of a protective sound enclosure. A point that is often not considered is the need to establish decontamination procedures following sonication.
As with any decontamination procedure, the materials being sonicated will dictate the appropriate disinfection procedures. Aerosols are generated during sonication, so the area surrounding the sonicator should be disinfected after use. This is particularly important when working with human source material, including human cells. Inadvertent exposure can result from contact with aerosols settled on surrounding surfaces if disinfection procedures are not established and followed.
Sound enclosures provide protection against aerosol generation in addition to providing hearing protection. If a sound enclosure is utilized, it should also be disinfected following each use or in accordance with another established disinfection schedule.
Be sure to implement appropriate disinfection procedures for the materials being sonicated at your facility to eliminate contamination and reduce the potential for exposures.