This past year the level of sanitation has increased tremendously. As a result of the number of sanitizers on the market, it is super important to read the labels. One chemical compound, in particular, has been found to be toxic to humans and animals – quats.
What are quats?
Ammonium quaternary compounds (quats) are in all-purpose anti-bacterial cleansers, disinfectant sprays and wipes. AND they are registered as a pesticide with the FDA. The EPA also states that few studies have been done on the use of single quats and the effects on humans.
What to look for on the label
When you’re reviewing the products in your home look for ingredients that include – onium chloride in the name. For example:
- Benzalkonium chloride
- Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (C14 60%, C16 30%, C12 5%, C18 5%)
- Alkyl dimethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (C12-14)
- Didecyldimethylammonium chloride.
Also, not all quats are labeled as anti-microbial so be sure to read your labels, especially the active ingredients!
What happens when you use these products?
- Skin irritation – rashes/ dermatitis
- Lung irritation – difficulty breathing
- Occupational asthma – if using on a regular basis
- Linked to reproductive issues – infertility, birth defects
- Usage leads to “superbugs” – antimicrobial resistance
- Home use has NOT been shown to reduce colds or flu
- Quats can linger on surfaces leading to unintentional exposure to kids and pets
Where are these being used?
You might find products with quats in your home but they are more than likely being used in restaurants, schools, groceries, airplanes, and gyms. You can help to educate these institutions and encourage them to use safer alternatives. Check out this site that is packed with information and handouts.
How do you effectively clean surfaces? I have several ways…
- Soap and water! Good old fashioned methods work 🙂 If you are washing your hands, spend at least 15 -20 seconds getting all areas of the hands. Sudsy water can do wonders for your counters.
- Use ozonated water to clean – it’s 99.9% effective at killing bugs in 30 seconds! You can get this on-demand ozone spray bottle for a reasonable price. I use it to disinfect my veggies, countertops, and pet messes. 🙂
- Hypochlorous – this is a weak bleach product that is safe to use on countertops, fruits, veggies, and more. I use it in the office to disinfect. It’s also used in fire stations, dental offices, and more! I suggest purchasing a unit to make your own – it just uses salt, vinegar, water, and electricity.
- Essential oils – thyme is a wonderful disinfectant often seen as thymol on ingredient lists.
- Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to see which products are safer to use.
I encourage you to take a look at your cleansers and anti-bacterial products. If you have any quats products in your cabinets dispose of them through your local hazardous waste center.
Together we can keep each other and our planet safe and healthy!