In an article published on August 3, 2017 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, editor Vanessa Zainzinger reported on a scientific study finding birth defects in rodents after exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). The study was published on June 15, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Birth Defects Research and conducted by Terry C. Hrubec and colleagues from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and the Washington State University, both U.S.. QACs have antimicrobial and antistatic properties and are commonly used in cleaners and disinfectants, hand wipes, food preservatives, swimming pool treatments, shampoos, and other personal care products. They are also used as surfactants in nanoclays in food contact plastics.

The researchers exposed mice and rats to different doses of a combination of alkyldimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC, CAS 68424-85-1) and didecyldimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC, CAS 7173-51-5) via feed or oral gavage; mice also experienced ambient exposure to ADBAC+DDAC from disinfectant use in the lab cages. Hrubec and colleagues found increased incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in both rats and mice that lasted for two generations after the exposure had been terminated. The authors noted that “ambient exposure from disinfectant use in the vivarium influenced the levels of NTDs to a greater extent than oral dosing.” Due to the observed teratogenic effects of ADBAC+DDAC in rodents and the increased use of these disinfectants, Hrubec and colleagues call for “further evaluation of their safety in humans and their contribution to health and disease.”

Read more

Vanessa Zainzinger (Auust 3, 2017). “U.S. study links consumer product disinfectants to birth defects in rodents.Chemical Watch


Hrubec, T. et al. (2017). “Ambient and dosed exposure to quaternary ammonium disinfectants causes neural tube defects in rodents.Birth Defects Research (published online June 15, 2015).