Researchers at Virginia Tech have discovered that two active ingredients in common household disinfectants cause declines in mouse reproduction. The ingredients aren’t just common in household cleaning products either, they’re also found in many food and medical settings with things such as hand sanitizer.
“It is likely that you have these chemicals in your house,” said Dr. Terry Hrubec, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. “The answer to the question, ‘Are these chemicals harmful to humans?’ is that we simply don’t know.”
Dr. Hrubec and her team at the veterinary college noticed that there was a sharp decline in the productive performance of the team’s mice. While Dr. Hrubec was initially stumped by the findings, she soon noticed that the staff that was in charge of caring for the mice always washed their hands with disinfectant before handling the animals.
It was this observation that led her to a latter which was published in Nature by co-author Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University, who had made a similar discovery. These two independent observations were the foundation from which the study was made.
When Dr. Hubrec began testing the effects of disinfectant on reproduction, she came up with some unexpected findings. Dr. Hubrec and Dr. Hunt are co-authors of the study, which will make an appearance of Reproductive Toxicology, a leading journal on the effects of toxic substances on the reproductive system.
“These chemicals have been around for 50 years,” said Dr. Hrubec, who is also an associate professor of anatomy at Blacksburg, Virginia’s Edward via College of Osteopathic Medicine. “They are generally considered safe, but no one has done rigorous scientific research to confirm this.”
Read more about the story at Scientific American.