Virginia Tech researchers have discovered that two active ingredients found in disinfectant chemicals have caused declines in mouse reproduction. The researchers came to the conclusion when they were using disinfectants while handling mice, according to News Medical reports.

Even though the chemicals responsible for the declines are common in cleaning products and disinfectants used in medical and food preparation settings — including hand sanitizers — academic scientists have never published a rigorous study on their safety or toxicity, until now.

In response to questions of whether the ingredients are harmful to humans, researchers still aren't sure.

The findings were discovered after researchers noticed a decline in the reproductive performance of mice, of which were handled following staffs use of disinfectant on their hands. The same results from multiple labs across the country lead researchers to do more stringent testing.

The testing specifically targeted the two active ingredients in the disinfectant — alkyl dimethyl benzalkonium chloride and didecyl dimethylammonium chloride — typically listed by their abbreviations, ADBAC and DDAC, on ingredient lists. According to reports, these are a part of a larger class of chemicals called "quaternary ammonium compounds," which are used for their antimicrobial and antistatic properties as well as their ability to lower surface tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid. They are found in commercial and householder cleaners, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, preservatives in makeup and other cosmetics, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets.

Researchers comment that further testing needs to be done. One says, "To be on the safe side, we need to do more research on these chemicals and find out how they could be affecting human health."

For additional details on the testing, click here.