Disinfectant sprayed and wiped away on a table

Contributed By Innuscience

According to a June 2020 report released in Bloomberg Law, "businesses across the U.S. have begun intensive COVID-19 disinfection regimes [that may be] exposing workers and consumers to chemicals that are largely untested for human health." The report says this is "alarming health and environmental safety experts," because disinfectants can be harmful to cleaning workers as well as building users. Health risks include neurological, dermatological, and reproductive problems as well as an array of respiratory ailments.

These businesses almost certainly believe they are doing the best thing for their personnel and customers. Indeed, many of the disinfectants now in use are part of the Environmental Protection Agency's List N, a list of disinfectants approved by the EPA to kill the novel coronavirus.

Although they are effective against the pathogen, however, "this doesn't mean they … are considered safe with regard to human health," says Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Other experts agree. According to Steve Teasdale, cofounder and vice president of Scientific Affairs at InnuScience, which does business in commercial cleaning systems based on biotechnology, "systematic overuse of disinfectants is common [and] has grown worse due to the pandemic. What we need is ‘justified disinfection’ to address this problem."

Teasdale defines justified disinfection as "The principle that effective cleaning using high-quality detergents across non-critical touch surfaces is as effective, if not more effective, than the widespread, systematic use or abusive use of disinfectants."