Biocides & Potential Respiratory Health Outcomes


Topic Overview

CASRN: Multiple; see table
Status: Topic under evaluation

Background Information

Commercial products used to kill or control the spread of harmful organisms by biological or chemical means are commonly called biocides. The term "biocide" can represent a broad range of products and uses including disinfectants, preservatives, antiseptics, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

Biocides are commercial products used to kill or control the spread of harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. Biocides include antiseptics and pesticides (e.g., disinfectants, preservatives, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides).

Studies have associated exposure to biocides with work-related asthma and other respiratory illnesses, especially in recent years. Occupations with high use of biocides include janitors, housekeepers, nurses, and healthcare technicians.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested that NTP conduct a scoping review of the scientific literature for evidence of respiratory illness from occupational exposure to antimicrobial pesticides, with a specific focus on disinfectants on hard surfaces.

NTP focused the review on 10 common antimicrobial pesticide active ingredients that are regulated by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (see table) and is now identifying relevant human, animal, and mechanistic studies involving inhalation of these 10 active ingredients and a range of potential respiratory effects (e.g., asthma, irritation, and sensitization).

The scoping review will include an interactive evidence map of the available data on potential respiratory health effects from these biocides. This map will help EPA understand the extent of the evidence and inform decision making on EPA's toxicology endpoints for risk assessments, evaluating risk mitigation, and the need for additional data. It will also provide researchers and public health professionals a tool for exploring the evidence by major respiratory effect categories, evidence stream (i.e., human or animal studies), and either individual biocides or across multiple biocides collectively.

10 Selected Biocides: Antimicrobial Active Ingredients
Common Name Chemical Name CASRN
ADBAC QUAT Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 68424-85-1
Bleach Sodium hypochlorite 7681-52-9
Chlorinated Isocyanurate Trichloro-s-triazinetrione 87-90-1
Chlorine Dioxide (in solution) Chlorine dioxide 10049-04-4
DDAC QUAT 1-Decanaminium, N-decyl-N, N-dimethyl chloride 7173-51-5
Hydrogen Peroxide Hydrogen peroxide 7722-84-1
OPP Ortho phenyl phenol 90-43-7
PAA Peracetic acid 79-21-0
PCMC p-chloro-m-cresol 59-50-7
PHMB Poly (hexamethylene biguanide) hydrochloride 32289-58-0