Centrifuge Solutions

Centrifugation of Hazardous Samples

Handling infectious microorganisms like SARS-CoV-2 in research laboratories or vaccine development could lead to laboratory acquired infections. According to preliminary research, the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to survive in the air for several hours in aerosols (more precisely bioaerosols), thus playing a critical role in your laboratory safety measures. To ensure the safety of laboratory personnel and to prevent laboratory acquired infections, reasonable precautions must be taken throughout the whole workflow. This includes centrifugation steps as centrifuges can be a source of bioaerosols. Here we provide information how to centrifuge potentially infectious samples.

Routes of laboratory acquired infections

Individuals who work with potentially infectious samples like SARS-CoV-2 are at risk of laboratory-acquired infections as a result of accidents or unrecognized incidents. The most significant routes of laboratory acquired infections are:

Illustration of infectious samples like SARS-CoV-2
  • Spills and splashes on skin, mucous membranes or in the eyes as well as contact with spills and droplets on surfaces
  • Ingestion through the mouth or touching the mouth or eyes with contaminated lab gloves
  • Inhalation of infectious bioaerosols


Illustration of human inhaling infectious agents

Bioaerosols can contain infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi as well as endotoxins or mycotoxins. Due to their small size, they can remain suspended and widely dispersed by air currents. If inhaled, they can cause severe infections. Bioaerosols are complex mixtures consisting of several components:

  • Endotoxins or mycotoxins
  • Viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores
  • Mold spores, hyphae and pollen
  • Animal and plant debris

Aerosolization not only takes place through wind and spray and through breathing, speaking, coughing, and sneezing; it also occurs through lab activities such as pipetting, opening of  tubes, shaking, and centrifugation.

Centrifuges can be a source of bioaerosols

Illustration of centrifuge causing bioaerosols

Standard laboratory methods such as centrifugation can cause bioaerosols. To maintain a desired temperature, air-cooled and refrigerated centrifuges use an air ventilation system.
This system discharges warm air from inside the centrifuge into the environment. Infectious agents present in the exhaust air will be dispersed quickly and broadly throughout the laboratory.

If hazardous samples are not adequately contained during a run, the formation of bioaerosols may occur. Spinning of uncapped samples, exceeding working volume of centrifuge vessels, or the use of tube that are not leak-tight must be avoided. Tube breakage poses an even greater risk, since this can produce a large amount of aerosol. The use of aerosol-tight lids or caps will reduce this risk significantly.

Centrifuges can be a source of bioaerosols, and therefore, it is highly recommended to take adequate precautions when working with hazardous or infectious substances.

In this Eppendorf Stay Informed clip, you will learn what aerosols are, where they occur and how to centrifuge hazardous/infectious samples in a safe way.

Taking precautions

For the safe handling of substances that pose a health hazard as well as toxic liquids or pathogenic microorganisms, the use of aerosol-tight Eppendorf caps (for swing-bucket rotors) and aerosol-tight lids (for fixed-angle rotors) are highly recommend. These caps and lids form an aerosol-tight container to ensure aerosols cannot leak from the bucket or rotor. In the case of an incident, the closed bucket or rotor can be carried to a biosafety cabinet where it can be opened in a safe environment. Aerosol-tightness of both Eppendorf caps and lids have been tested and verified by Public Health England, Porton Down, UK.

For more information about cleaning and disinfection of rotors, buckets, and caps please refer to the Eppendorf operating manuals, the Eppendorf White Paper Routine Maintenance of Centrifuges and our checklist for aerosol tightness of rotors.

Swing-bucket rotor helps carrying samples to safe environment

Swing-bucket rotors: Thanks to their unique design you can carry the closed bucket securely to the biosafety cabinet and open it there - in a safe environment.

Fixed-angle rotors on lab bench for safety handling in SARS-CoV-2 research

Fixed-angle rotors: To improve handling and operational safety, aerosol-tight Eppendorf QuickLock® lids allow for fast and ergonomic lid locking with only ¼ of a turn.

Rotor Solutions

Our centrifuges offer innovative safety features including fixed-angle and swing-bucket rotors with verified aerosol-tightness. Here is an overview of the most relevant rotors for your SARS-CoV-2 research. Detailed product information can be found in our webshop.

Nucleic acid purification in 1.5 mL tubes with full temperature control

Centrifuge Rotor FA-45-24-11 for nucleic acid purification in SARS-CoV-2 research

Rotor FA-45-24-11

Special feature:
Aerosol-tight for safe centrifugation of hazardous samples

Designed for:
Centrifuge 5424 R (refrigerated standard microcentrifuge)

Max. capacity:
24 × 1.5/2.0 mL tubes

Max. speed:
21,130 × g (15,000 rpm)

Spin column based DNA & RNA purification
with tube lids open

Centrifuge Rotor FA-18x2-Kit for spin column based DNA & RNA purification in SARS-CoV-2 research

Rotor FA-18x2-Kit

Special feature:
Aerosol-tight for safe centrifugation of hazardous samples

Designed for:
Centrifuge 5425
(whisper quiet 24-place standard microcentrifuge)

Max. capacity:
18 × 1.5/2.0 mL tubes

Max. speed:
18,565 × g (15,060 rpm)

High-capacity nucleic acid purification with full temperature control

Centrifuge Rotor FA-45-48-11 for high-capacity nucleic acid purification in SARS-CoV-2 research

Rotor FA-45-48-11

Special feature:
Aerosol-tight for safe centrifugation of hazardous samples

Designed for:
Centrifuge 5430 R
(microcentrifuge with multipurpose versatility)

Max. capacity:
48 × 1.5/2.0 mL tubes

Max. speed:
18,210 × g (12,700 rpm)

PCR and qPCR setup in 96-well plates with full temperature control

Centrifuge Rotor S-4xUniversal for PCR and qPCR setup in 96-well plates in SARS-CoV-2 research

Rotor S-4xUniversal

Special feature:
Aerosol-tight for safe centrifugation of hazardous samples

Designed for:
Centrifuge 5910 R
(super versatile multipurpose centrifuge)

Max. capacity:
4 x 1,000 mL

Max. speed:
4,347 × g (4,500 rpm)

Service & Maintenance

An annual inspection and maintenance of centrifuges and rotors by an Eppendorf certified  service technician is highly recommended to ensure a safe working environment. Make use of the new Global Centrifuge Service Agreements from cost-efficient to all-inclusive care packages for easier service process and maximized uptime.

Do you know how to care for your centrifuge in your lab? Learn more about recommended routine maintenance for your centrifuge equipment.

Centrifuge Maintenance

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