Reduce the Noise in Your Lab

09/10/18

In labs the noise level is usually quite high. Multiple devices are running at the same time and people are talking. Often also the radio is turned on, increasing the noise level additionally. When comparing centrifuges, do not only check the capacity and rounds per minute. Think about the noise level as well to reduce your stress level caused by too much noise.

Annoyance from noise at the workplace is a problem in environments operating multiple instruments with varied noise levels and frequencies. When a high level of concentration is required, noise above 55 dB(A) is considered annoying to most people. Noise pollution leads to stress, which can have a negative impact on the health and the well-being. It can also negatively impact performance. Considering many scientists read, write and have detailed discussions at the bench, the accumulated noise level in the lab should be kept at a low level for a healthy, stress-free and productive work environment. 

Noise in a laboratory comes from a variety of sources including hoods, biological safety cabinets, fridges, freezers and centrifuges. Noise from all sources add up to an accumulated noise level. For example, two devices operating at 55 dB(A) produce a noise level of 58.1 dB(A). Adding a third device operating at 60 dB(A) leads to a noise level of 62.1 dB(A).

Centrifuges are one of the most frequently used instruments in scientific and diagnostic laboratories around the world. They can also be a source of noise pollution. Standard devices for up to 24 tubes of 1.5 or 2.0 mL are an integral component of many workflows including DNA/RNA extraction and protein purification. These centrifuges are continually in use and often sit on the laboratory bench right next to the users. State-of-the-art centrifuges specially designed for low noise operation help to reduce the overall noise level and contribute to a more enjoyable and productive working environment. 

During the development of a 24-place Centrifuge special attention on low noise emission must be paid. Short centrifuge runs of up to 12 minutes should be whisper quiet, because most centrifugation runs are shorter. This length of time is sufficient for the centrifugation steps required by most DNA/RNA extraction kits, demanding often only 30 seconds or 2 minutes. The average noise level of 45 dB(A) should not be exceeded during these short runs. Only during longer runs the ventilator will switch to full capacity to dissipate heat from the instrument – but even then, the modern centrifuges can remain quiet with a noise level below 51 dB(A).