QUATS in Schools and in Your Home

Published studies – Share w/Your School Board!

Hrubec TC et al. Altered Toxicological Endpoints in Humans with Quaternary Ammonium Compound Exposure


Humans are extensively exposed to Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs). QACs are ubiquitously used in medical settings, restaurants, and homes as cleaners and disinfectants. They are also used on food and in personal care products as preservatives. Despite their prevalence, nothing is known about the health effects associated with chronic low-level exposure. Chronic QAC toxicity was recently identified in mice and resulted in developmental and reproductive deficits and altered immune function. Cell based studies show that QACs increase inflammation, disrupt cholesterol synthesis, and decrease mitochondria function. If these studies translate to human toxicity, multiple physiological functions could be affected. QAC concentrations in humans have not been monitored previously. This study tested whether QAC concentrations could be detected in the blood of 43 random volunteers, and whether QAC concentrations were associated with markers of inflammation, mitochondrial function, and cholesterol synthesis in a dose dependent manner. QAC concentrations were detected in 80% of study participants, and were associated with decreased mitochondrial function and an increase in inflammatory cytokines in a dose dependent manner. Cholesterol synthesis pathway intermediaries were generally increased, indicating disruption in cholesterol homeostasis. This is the first study to demonstrate that chronic exposure to QACs results in measurable concentrations in human blood, and to also demonstrate significant correlations between QAC level and meaningful biomarkers related to health.

Lab disinfectant harms mouse fertility (Hrubec interview by Brendan Maher) https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080618/full/453964a.html

Hrubec, TC et al., 2017
Ambient and Dosed Exposure to Quaternary Ammonium Disinfectants Causes Neural Tube Defects in Rodents Birth Defects Research 109:1166–1178, 2017. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bdr2.1064

Background: Quaternary ammonium compounds are a large class of
chemicals used for their antimicrobial and antistatic properties. Two common quaternary ammonium compounds, alkyldimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) and didecyldimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC), are combined in common cleaners and disinfectants. Introduction of a cleaner containing ADBAC1DDAC in the vivarium caused neural tube defects (NTDs) in mice and rats. Methods: To further evaluate this finding, male and female mice were dosed in the feed at 60 or 120 mg/kg/day, or by oral gavage at 7.5, 15, or 30 mg/kg ADBAC1DDAC. Mice also received ambient exposure to ADBAC1DDAC from the disinfectant used in the mouse room. Embryos were evaluated on gestational day 10 for NTDs, and fetuses were evaluated on gestational day 18 for gross and skeletal malformations. Results: We found increased NTDs with exposure to ADBAC1DDAC in both rats and mice. The NTDs persisted for two generations after cessation of exposure. Notably, male exposure alone was sufficient to cause NTDs. Equally significant, ambient exposure from disinfectant use in the vivarium, influenced the levels of NTDs to a greater extent than oral dosing. No gross or significant axial skeletal malformations were observed in late gestation fetuses. Placental abnormalities and late gestation fetal deaths were increased at 120 mg/kg/day, which might explain the lack of malformations observed in late gestation fetuses.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate that ADBAC1DDAC in combination
are teratogenic to rodents. Given the increased use of these disinfectants,
further evaluation of their safety in humans and their contribution to health and disease is essential.

Quaternary ammonium disinfectants cause subfertility in mice by targeting both male and female reproductive processes. Reproductive Toxicology 59:159-166 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26582257/

Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC) are common ingredients in household bathroom and kitchen cleaning sprays. ADBAC+DDAC cause reproductive toxicity in mice. The aim of the present study was to investigate gender-specific reproductive effects from ADBAC+DDAC. Female reproduction was assessed through ovulation, oocyte implantation, and estrus cycling. Male reproductive function was assessed by sperm concentration, motility, and viability. Numbers of corpora lutea were not different after 2 weeks, but decreased after 8 weeks of ADBAC+DDAC exposure. Dams exposed for 5 weeks to ADBAC+DDAC spent significantly less time in estrus. ADBAC+DDAC exposed males exhibited declines in both sperm concentration and motility, but not sperm viability. Subfertility in mice from ADBAC+DDAC exposure is, therefore, mediated through reproductive disturbances in both females and males. While the effect of ADBAC+DDAC exposure on human health is unclear, widespread exposure necessitates further consideration of their potential reproductive toxicity.

Datta et al. 2017
In Vitro Evaluation of Mitochondrial Function and Estrogen Signaling in Cell Lines Exposed to the Antiseptic Cetylpyridinium Chloride https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783672/

Biomonitoring California Scientific Guidance Meeting, March 2020

Links to PPTs from Dr. Hrubec, industry representatives and the BCSG Board https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/events/biomonitoring-california-scientific-guidance-panel-meeting-march-2020

NEW! Video Interview of Dr. Terry Hrubec on QUATS and QUACs –

Here a young lady practically bathes in QUATs – no gloves, respirator protection, nothing. She dips her hand right into the solution.


  1. Thank you printed and shared with the wife…there are others saying the same thing backed up by science…trying to switch to plain alcohol for disinfectent…any other reccomendations?

  2. I have had these discussions with the principals and they don’t care. The children are using clorox wipes on and off the bus and at the end of each (7) periods. No gloves and/or hand washing. I just pulled one of my kids out today and have one more to go, which will be 4 children homeschooling. I am going to fight this regardless if my kids go to the schools or not. No other parents seem to care! Bunch of zombies!

    1. Are we looking to stay away from all Quats (Quaternary Ammonium Compounds) or just Quats that contain Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC) ?

      Is a Silicone Quaternary Ammonium Salt included in these harmful ingredients? Where the label shows containing the active ingredient:
      3-(trihydroxysilyl) propyldimethyloctadecyl ammonium chloride 0.75% and Other Ingredients 99.25% included in these harmful cleaners?

      1. From Dr. Hrubec:
        “I don’t think anyone knows. There are a few studies on Quats that are not ADBAC or DDAC. I do not recall any that looked at this QAC. Whether this QAC is as harmful as ADBAC and DDAC would depend on whether it binds to the same cellular receptors or has the same chemical properties.

        Hope that helps”

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