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Researcher

EDUCATION

What are QUATs and Why Should I Care?

Quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATs), commonly found in common brand name disinfectants, are widely used for their effectiveness against harmful pathogens. However, their effectiveness comes at a cost. Studies link QUATs to health concerns like respiratory irritation, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – risks are highest for those with frequent exposure, such as healthcare and cleaning professionals. Further research suggests potential risks to fertility, development, and cellular function.

Environmentally, QUATs are harmful to aquatic life, may contribute to antibiotic resistance, and contaminate waterways. Their presence in drinking water highlights the need to reevaluate their widespread use.

Fortunately, safer alternatives exist. Naturally derived disinfectants like Thymo-Cide and CleanCide (based on thymol and citric acid) offer effective cleaning without the hazards of QUATs. These gentler options are ideal for environments with children, animals, or those with sensitivities.

The need for change is clear. Check out the studies below that demonstrate the risks associated with QUATs, making a strong case for safer, sustainable cleaning practices. By adopting naturally-derived disinfectants, we protect both human health and the environment.

Article 1

Quaternary Ammonium Disinfectants: Even During the Pandemic, “Quats” Should Not

Be Used Around Children

Susan Kaplan, Research Assistant Professor at UIC School of Public Health takes a deeper dive into assessing the health risks of using common cleaning agents containing quaternary ammonium compounds (“quats”), and the particular danger they pose to school-age children.

Article 2

Occupational Exposure to Disinfectants and Asthma Control in U.S. Nurses

This study investigates the association between nurses' exposure to disinfectants

and asthma control, revealing significant health risks. Nurses using disinfectants for cleaning

medical instruments reported poorer asthma control, highlighting the impact of occupational

exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde on respiratory health. This

groundbreaking research underscores the urgent need for safer cleaning practices in healthcare settings to protect workers' respiratory health.

Article 3

Occupational Asthma Caused by Quaternary Ammonium Compounds: A Multicenter Cohort Study

This multicenter study reveals that exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds

in cleaning products is linked to occupational asthma, characterized by a pronounced

eosinophilic airway response. Highlighting the need for awareness and further research into the inflammatory and immunologic mechanisms involved, it underscores the health risks for workers in cleaning and disinfection roles.

Article 4

Effect of Higher Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations of Quaternary Ammonium Compounds in Clinical E. Coli Isolates on Antibiotic Susceptibilities and Clinical Outcomes

In a study on E. coli infections, researchers found a link between bacteria's resistance to certain antibiotics and their resistance to common disinfectants, specifically quaternary ammonium compounds (Quats). Essentially, if E. coli was resistant to the antibiotic

cotrimoxazole, it was also likely to resist these disinfectants. This suggests that the widespread

use of Quats could contribute to antimicrobial resistance and affect clinical outcomes.

Article 5

Altered Toxicological Endpoints in Humans from Common Quaternary Ammonium

Compound Disinfectant Exposure

This comprehensive study uncovers the presence of quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) in human blood and their association with altered health markers. By analyzing blood samples from 43 volunteers, researchers found QACs in 80% of participants, linking these compounds to increased inflammation markers, decreased mitochondrial function, and disrupted cholesterol synthesis.

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