The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently added to its list of cleaning products proven to kill coronavirus (SARS CoV-2). Based on results from laboratory testing, the latest update brings the total number of EPA-approved household disinfectants to 23.
New disinfectants proven to kill coronavirus
Across the country many students are returning to college campuses and school buildings as new “hybrid” courses are introduced. Meanwhile more and more businesses are opening back up, despite the virus continuing to spread. These new opportunities for exposure means doubling down on how we clean and disinfect. When searching for disinfectants nowadays, the one crucial criteria on every consumer’s mind is: are these cleaning products proven to kill coronavirus?
Thankfully, the EPA has conveniently compiled a list of those exact products that have been specifically tested against COVID-19. New to the list are Clorox products, including the brand’s popular disinfectant wipes, four products from Lysol including Lysol sprays, and 16 products from manufacturer Lonza. All 23 products were already listed on the EPA’s “List N”–a collection of over 480 disinfectants presumed to kill COVID-19. However, these 23 products in particular now have an official stamp of approval after SARS-CoV-2 specific laboratory testing was performed on them. What all these products have in common is the same active ingredient: quaternary ammonium or “quats.”
What are quats?
If you’ve never heard of quats, you may be wondering, what are they? And are they safe?
Quats come in many forms and have been used for decades in cleaning and household products, ranging from disinfectants, nasal sprays, throat lozenges, dryer sheets, shampoos and more. While they have been known to cause skin irritation and occupational asthma in those who frequently handle and are exposed to quats, studies have not found any data linking the compounds to toxicity in humans. However the compounds have been found to cause reproductive and developmental problems in animals, but at high dose levels that humans would not normally be exposed to. In fact, most formulas containing quats have an extremely low concentration of the compounds, at only about 0.1%.
If you’re still worried about negative reactions to the compound, the most important thing is to use quat disinfectants as directed. Toxicologist Keith Hostetler says, “The compounds pose their biggest risks when they get on the skin, but only about 10% get absorbed into the body. If they enter the bloodstream, they’re quickly cleared.” Quats are also unlikely to be inhaled due to their molecular weight, so if you are following proper directions and cleaning guidelines, you should be perfectly safe.
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And remember to continue to follow other preventative measures as well, such as mask-wearing and frequent handwashing–which is still “the most effective way to break the chain” of transmission.