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Disinfectant compounds are touted as virus killing but what else can they do to our health? Are disinfectants and COVID-19 both cause for concern? An exposure scientist helps listeners untangle some of these issues.

Listen and learn

  • What are disinfectants and how they work,
  • How studies indicate possible long-term development and reproductive effects from disinfectant exposures, and
  • What safer alternatives to disinfectants exist including soap and water and masks. 

A Chemical Exposure scientist discusses EPA’s List N, which is a list of over 400 compounds that meet the EPA’s criteria for use to kill SARS-CoV-2 particles. Two hundred of those listed are actually harmful “quats,” or quaternary ammonium compounds. She helps listeners understand what this means and brings her big-picture thinking to our current reactive climate of applying disinfectants uniformly.

Her work includes researching chemicals in consumer products we come in contact with in our daily lives, including personal care products, disinfectants, and pesticides. She tells listeners that the disinfectants that are being used for COVID are actually considered pesticides, which is a cause for concern for our environment and health.

She says the only requirement for a compound to be on List N is the ability to kill the virus. There are no considerations for the safety of repeated use of such disinfectants. She is especially concerned that such products are being applied to school settings when there are safer alternatives like using soap and water on hands and wearing masks.

She adds that modes of exposure can be from non dietary ingestion like hand-to-mouth, but the main route of exposure is airborne, from fogging or spraying. Good ventilation can be key, but schools are often older buildings with bad ventilation systems.

Listen in for what to consider in how we keep our communities safe, both short and long-term.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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