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Disinfectants may affect your health in ways you might not expect. During this season, everyone is sick with a cold or the flu. Many people have cleaned their homes more than usual. So, while you’re working hard to kill unwanted germs, you may also be harming your health. To be called “disinfectants,” manufacturers have to put many things in their products to make them safe. Bleach or something called “Quats” is often found in many products to show that they can kill bacteria on surfaces. Quats stand for “quaternary ammonium compounds,” and different kinds do different things. They are often labeled “benzyl ammonium chloride” and can negatively impact your health. Disinfectants can also contain EPA-registered pesticides.

Inhaling Disinfectants

Quats can contribute to asthma. As soon as you spray a product in your house, the fumes can stay in the air for up to twenty minutes. It can cause respiratory irritation, which can aggravate those with asthma. Furthermore, exposure to bleach can bring on an asthma attack or exacerbate the condition. But, even if you don’t have asthma, research shows exposure to bleach over long periods can cause someone to develop asthma. It is bad news for adults, but it’s even more concerning for children. Their exposure to these chemicals can be higher than adults because they breathe in more air per pound of body weight. As a parent with school-aged children, I’ve seen disinfecting wipes in my kid’s classroom. So, make sure you know what’s in these chemically-drenched wipes. It may sound like a great way to kill germs, but it could also expose them to harmful chemicals. 

Safely Disinfect at Home and School

Good old soap and water do the trick when it comes to general cleaning. You don’t need to use additional disinfecting agents unless you’re actively trying to stop the spread of infection. When that is the case, choose disinfecting products that contain hydrogen peroxide. It may be the best option since they’re linked with fewer health effects than bleach or quats. As with all chemicals, keep them out of children’s hands, and it’s best to keep them out of the room you’re cleaning. As for the school, you can contact your child’s teacher to ensure disinfecting agents are out of reach, so the children are not handling them.

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