I’m not sure what exactly is going on in the world of cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention, but I am LOVING all of the new studies being published and news bulletins being sent by a whole host of regulatory bodies! I have topics galore for upcoming blogs!
Last week, I was in the Sacramento area visiting the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine campus. I was meeting with two influential veterinarians who focus on Shelter Medicine. Animals, cleaning and disinfection, infection prevention and biosecurity were of course our key topics of discussion. I’m not sure if it was serendipity or just coincidence that after being on campus, a new publication came rolling across my desk published by researchers at UC Davis. The study investigated the number of compounds and drugs found in household and pharmaceutical use. The study discovered that Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) were found in many different types of household products including disinfectants, hand wipes, shampoos, nasal sprays and even mouthwash could inhibit mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) as well as estrogenic functions in cells.
Before we start to panic, it’s important to understand that the testing conducted was done using in-vitro testing using cells. There is already some evidence to support that Quats can disrupt fertility in mice, therefore the fact that this study shows that Quats can impact the estrogen signalling process that is important for human fertility is something that should not be ignored. While it’s true we do not yet know what levels these chemicals reach within the human body when exposed to Quats, the data certainly warrants further investigation including moving to investigation using animal models.
With the ban on Triclosan and need to remove it from consumer products, some companies have been looking to utilize Quats in their place. The thought of course was they were choosing a safer alternative. This study demonstrates that this may not be a safer alternative. This research is yet another to add to the growing pile of findings that Quats may not be as safe as previously believed. As this study showed, six out of the ten most potent mitochondrial inhibitors were Quats. The fact that almost everyone is exposed to Quats on a regular, if not daily basis, is certainly cause for concern.
I’m not crying wolf or inferring the sky is falling. I do however, think this is yet another example of not considering what the wide spread use of antibacterial agents in our homes can lead to. We know there is no need to use antibacterial hand soaps or antibacterial dish soaps because plain soap and water will do. Do we really need to use antibacterial agents in our tooth paste? If we’re concerned with bad breath why not brush more frequently or chew gum between brushings?
Regardless, this is going to be an interesting topic to follow and see what unfolds as more testing and research is conducted. I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I learn anything further!