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Allergies, Headaches, Dizziness & Nausea From Using Classical Chemical Disinfectants - Another Way?

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Chemical based disinfectant products are used just about everywhere, whether it be in hospitals or as an alcohol hand gel which someone has plucked out of their pocket on the back of the bus. However there is growing evidence to show that particularly, alcohol based antimicrobial products are no longer best practice.

More and more people are developing allergies and people are generally starting to question whether the fuzzy head they are leaving work with is more than just a symptom of stress. This has led people to ask some important questions.

For example, do you know how harmful the chemicals in your antimicrobial products actually are? If you are in any doubt please read on and this article will tell you how to find out and may lead you to reassess your approach to infection control.

The Material Safety Datasheet - A warning rarely headed?

If you haven't yet looked into the effects the chemical-rich disinfection products you are using could be having on your health take the time to look at the Material Safety Datasheet (MSDS) which your supplier is legally obliged to supply to you for each product.

Key sections to look at are 3 (hazard information), 4 (first aid measures) and 11 (toxicological information). You may be interested to see the serious warnings and advice your supplier has been quietly telling you about their product:

  • R10 Flammable

  • R41 Risk of serious damage to eyes.

  • R67 Vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness.

  • S23 Do not breathe spray.

  • S26 In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water & seek medical advice.

  • S39 Wear eye/face protection.

  • S51 Use only in well-ventilated areas

As these harmful chemicals are present in your immediate surroundings through the whole day you are advised to wear safety goggles, wear a mask, wear gloves and ventilate the room - in real life it is unlikely that you have the time or the inclination to repeat this ritual before and after seeing each patient.

As a result, the chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) which are being sprayed into the air are then respired by the user and the patient - This can lead to Damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as a list of series of serious of conditions including lung diseases.

Other less serious side-effects include those listed in the heading. I spoke to an NHS nurse about the issue and she had this to say;

'These side-effects are all too common. Either it will be you who is suffering from some sort of headache or some of your colleagues will be. Its not surprising when you smell the vapours which are coming off these products'.

Is the industry to blame? The problem lies with the fact that all existing antimicrobial products are manufactured via the same outdated chemistry based technology which has remained largely unchanged over the last 15-20 years.

Because existing giant chemical and pharmaceutical companies have such a stranglehold on the industry there has been little in the way of significant innovation to make products more user-friendly. Large companies have become complacent and there has been little real innovation over the past ten years.

There has been a recent trend of low or zero alcohol products but what manufacturers aren't really telling people that they have replaced alcohol with other, sometimes more harmful, chemicals such as quats, aldehydes or biguindies to act as the active ingredient. So in some cases zero alcohol products are actually more harmful than standard chemical based products. It is the persuasive marketing which makes you believe that you are buying something which is more responsible when in reality it is more damaging to you and the environment.

Despite apparently limited progression in the industry Government organizations and industry experts are obliging the industry to find safer and more ecological solutions which may force existing companies to change the methods and chemicals which are being used in the manufacturing process. Increasingly, health professionals are looking for eco-friendly sanitizers as the shortcomings of chemical disinfectants are becoming more common knowledge.

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