Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC), ingredients found in commonly-used products such as cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, and anti-static laundry products, have been gaining attention from scientists as they research possible contributors to the increasing rate of infertility worldwide.
In a November 2015 article published in the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology, Virginia Tech University found that both male and female lab mice exposed to QAC in their cages presented with impaired fertility, with symptoms such as decreased ovulation and weaker sperm. This research comes as a follow up to an article last year that focused on health outcomes for female mice, including longer time to get pregnant, smaller litter sizes, and fewer pregnancies. Interestingly, the research originated when an assistant professor noticed a decline in the reproductive performance of her mice and traced it back to her lab assistants using hand disinfectant prior to handling the animals.
While industry representatives argue that QAC have been approved by the FDA and the EPA, the researchers note that there have been no human studies despite the widespread use of and likely widespread exposure to these chemicals.
Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, through Healthier Hospitals, can help support hospitals and healthcare facilities interested in reducing harmful chemicals used in cleaning supplies. The Healthier Hospitals program provides adopters a “How-To” Guide as well as detailed goals and advice on green cleaning. You can read more about green cleaning resources here.
[Source: Environmental Health News]