A newly published study has revealed that common disinfectants expose people to alarming levels of dangerous chemicals, which are linked to serious health problems.
As reported by The Guardian, the global use of disinfectants has gone through the roof since the pandemic’s outset, in 2020. Clorox dramatically boosted production of its wipe packs to 1.5m a day by mid-2021, and an industry trade group said 83% of consumers surveyed around the same time reported they had used a disinfectant wipe in the last week.
“But as schools reopened, a group of toxic chemical researchers grew concerned as they heard reports of kids regularly using disinfectant wipes on their classroom desks, or teachers running disinfectant foggers,” The Guardian states.
FROM THE REPORT: The researchers knew the disinfectants did little to protect consumers from Covid, and were instead exposing kids to what they say are a dangerous chemical group – quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as QACs, or “quats”.
Quats are common components in popular disinfectant wipes and sprays, especially those that claim to “kill 99.9% of germs”. But in a new peer-reviewed paper, the researchers assembled the conclusions from a fast-growing body of quat studies that point to several main issues: the chemicals are linked to serious health problems, they contribute to antimicrobial resistance, they pollute the environment and they are not particularly effective.
Among the groups most at risk are small children because the wipes are so frequently used in daycares or schools, elderly folks in supervised care, healthcare workers, cleaning professionals and others who frequently use disinfectants.
The chemicals “might not be efficacious, but also might be harmful”, said Courtney Carignan, a co-author on the paper and toxicologist at Michigan State University.
“Soap and water is safest for general cleaning purposes,” Carignan said. “And some resources offer alternatives to harsh cleaners. Disinfectants should generally be reserved for when someone has the stomach flu or other illnesses for which disinfectants are effective, and even then they should “not be used in a cavalier way.”
The study stresses the need for regulatory agencies to protect consumers.
“Labeling requirements are inconsistent among product classes – they must be included on pesticide labels, they do not need to be included on paint labels, and they appear to only be sometimes listed on disinfectant labels,” Carignan said.
“Chemicals of concern should only be used where their function is necessary for health and safety, or is critical for the functioning of society, and no safer alternatives exist,” the paper states.