In the News: The Hidden Dangers of Disinfectants

We believe that better knowledge about everyday chemicals enables us to make better choices for ourselves and our family, so when we came across this latest research we knew it was something our community would be interested to hear about too.

We all know that since the start of the pandemic, disinfectant usage has skyrocketed globally and we've all seen a surge in the consumption of disinfectant wipes and sprays, with many people relying on them for protection. 

We recently came across a Guardian article in which a group of researchers is raising concerns about the potential risks associated with these products, particularly for children. They are focusing in particular on the dangers of a common chemical found in disinfectants known as quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as quats.

In a rush? Below is a brief summary of the article and research findings but if you'd like to read the full article, click here

The Health Risks and Ineffectiveness of Quats

Quats, present in popular disinfectant wipes and sprays claiming to kill 99.9% of germs, have been linked to serious health problems and they also contribute to antimicrobial resistance and pollute the environment. This lack of efficacy combined with potential harm is a cause for concern for the researchers.

Exposure and Accumulation

Quats primarily enter our bodies through disinfectant use. Research shows that a significant percentage of the population, including children, has detectable levels of quats in their blood. They can be absorbed through the skin, ingested orally from surfaces or wipes, and even inhaled when using spray disinfectants.

Among the groups most at risk are small children because the wipes are so frequently used in daycares or schools, healthcare workers, cleaning professionals and others who frequently use disinfectants.

The question of efficacy

The researchers have also called into question quats’ efficacy. Disinfection with quats often has only a small benefit over plain soap and water when it comes to killing germs, research suggests. They suggest that soap and water is safest for general cleaning purposes and that disinfectants should generally be reserved for when someone has the stomach flu or other illnesses for which disinfectants are effective. 

Yet another reason to go natural at home 🌱

Back to blog