We have previously shared our concerns over the mixture of chemicals known as quats (Quaternary Ammonium compounds) that have been linked to birth defects in laboratory animals. The problem with quats is that they are commonly found in household commercial cleaning products (including Clorox disinfecting wipes) and they are strong enough to cause adverse health effects.
With more information coming out about the risks associated with quats, you may be concerned about exposure.
Here’s how you can keep your family safe from quats:
Understand the Risks
Products including many disinfectant sprays and wipes or all-purpose antibacterial cleaners use quats as an active ingredient. Quats are potent skin and lung irritants and have been linked to reproductive harm.
Adverse health effects include:
- Skin rashes
- Breathing problems
- Effects on fertility
- Possibility of birth defects
Widespread use of quats is also contributing to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance. This is a concern because it can lead to the development of “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. Despite popular belief, use of potent antibacterial cleaners in the home has never actually been proven to reduce colds or flu in the people that live there.
It’s important to read the labels of products you bring into your home. Always check the front label of a product for all active ingredients. Examples of commonly found quats include:
- Benzalkonium chloride
- Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (C14 60%, C16 30%, C12 5%, C18 5%)
- Alkyl dimethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (C12-14)
- Didecyldimethylammonium chloride
If some of your household cleaning products do contain quats, it’s important to still read the labels and follow directions accordingly. For example, the label of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes advises users to wash hands after use, and in some cases, rinse affected surfaces with water after use. Quats will linger on a surface long after you have cleaned with the product and therefore exposure continues every time you touch that surface.
Buy Safer Alternatives
There are many common, cost-effective cleaners that can still make your home clean without quats as an ingredient. For disinfectants, look for cleaners that do not contain quats. Also, consider using vinegar or non-disinfectant wipes (such as baby wipes).
Our Dapple Wipes are a great option to keep things clean and green in your home or on the go.
You can also use the search box from the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice to find products that meet the Safer Choice Standard.
There are a number of ways you can make a difference:
- Write letters to your school, gym, office, etc., to raise awareness about the dangers of quats in public spaces.
- Tell Clorox, the leading manufacturer of disinfectant products, to #QuitQuats!
- Visit Women’s Voices for the Earth and PAQ (Parents Against Quats) for resources and more information on how you can take action.