What Chemicals Are Increased Risk and Why?

When using our Safer Disinfectants tool, you may be wondering why we classify some chemicals as safer versus ones that pose increased risk. The following list identifies the risks that these chemicals are associated with and notes references for why they are considered safer or increased-risk.

INCREASED-RISK DISINFECTANT CHEMICALS

  • Ammonium bicarbonate
    • Ammonium bicarbonate can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, and can cause bronchitis to develop. (Ref)
  • Ammonium carbonate
    • Ammonium carbonate can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, causing coughing and shortness of breath. (Ref)
  • Chlorine dioxide
    • Breathing chlorine dioxide can irritate the nose, throat, and can cause coughing and shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause fluid to build up in the lungs or could lead to bronchitis to develop. There is also evidence it may damage developing fetuses. (Ref)
  • Glycolic acid
    • Glycolic acid causes respiratory issues and can irritate the throat, nose, and lungs, and may cause liver damage at higher exposures. (Ref)
  • Glutaraldehyde
    • Glutaraldehyde causes respiratory issues such as asthma, allergic reactions, severe burns, and can irritate the lungs. (Ref)
  • Hydrochloric acid
    • Hydrochloric acid can severely burn the skin, inhalation can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs. Excessive exposure can cause a build-up of fluids within the lungs. It may also affect the liver and kidneys. (Ref)
  • Hydrogen chloride
    • Hydrogen chloride is corrosive and can cause irritation to the skin and respiratory tracts. (Ref)
  • Hypochlorous acid
    • Sodium hypochlorite is corrosive and has fumes that can cause throat and nose irritation, irritation to the lungs, and a build-up of fluid within the lungs, as well as headaches, and nausea, vomiting. (Ref)
  • Iodine
    • Excess exposure to iodine can cause thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism, and lead to further hormone imbalances. (Ref)
  • Peroxyacetic acid (Peracetic acid)
    • Peroxyacetic acid causes respiratory issues and irritation to the throat, nose, lungs, and can affect liver and kidney functionality. There is also limited evidence that may be carcinogenic and contribute to lung cancer. (Ref)
  • Phenolic
    • Phenolics can cause irritation to the nose, throat, and lungs, can cause a build-up of fluid within the lungs at higher exposures, can reduce oxygen flow in the blood and lead to fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, affects the liver, kidney, and nervous system, and is considered a mutagen. (Ref)
  • PHMB
    • The EU has heavily regulated the use of PHMB and has classified it as a serious health hazard that could be fatal if inhaled, as it causes damage to organs with repeated exposure and is suspected of being a carcinogen. (Ref)
  • Potassium peroxymonosulfate
    • Potassium peroxymonosulfate can cause irritation to the nose, throat, and lungs, and some evidence that it may cause a change in lung function with long term exposure. (Ref)
  • Octanoic acid
    • This chemical is considered corrosive and can cause skin damage. (Ref)
  • Silver
    • Prolonged exposure/buildup of colloidal silver can interfere with absorption of other drugs and cause kidney damage, as well as irritation to the lungs and throat. (Ref)
  • Silver ion
    • Silver ions are biologically active and bind readily. Chronic or constant exposure can lead to nonlethal health complications. (Ref)
  • Sodium chloride
    • Sodium chloride can cause mild irritation to the respiratory tract. (Ref)
  • Sodium chlorite
    • Breathing sodium chlorite can irritate the lungs. High exposure can cause a buildup of fluid in the lungs or could lead to bronchitis to develop. It also may decrease sperm motility. (Ref)
  • Sodium dichloroisocyanurate
    • Sodium dichloroisocyanurate can irritate and exacerbate existing respiratory issues by irritating the nose and throat and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. (Ref)
  • Sodium hypochlorite
    • Sodium hypochlorite fumes can cause throat and nose irritation, irritation to the lungs and a build-up of fluid within the lungs, as well as headaches, and nausea, vomiting. (Ref)
  • Quaternary ammonium
    • Quaternary ammonium compounds, or "quats," increase the risk for asthmatic and allergic reactions. Some quats have been associated with dermatitis. Some have also been shown to be mutagenic, and they have been shown to cause low fertility rates in mice. (Ref)

SAFER CHOICES

Products with these active ingredients are safer disinfectants that do not generally cause increased risk.

* These safer active ingredients are occasionally paired up with incresased-risk chemicals for certain products, and as such may sometimes be found on the list of increased-risk products.