Increased Use of Quaternary Ammonium Compounds during the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Beyond: Consideration of Environmental Implications

Priya I. Hora, Sarah G. Pati, Patrick J. McNamara, William A. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are active ingredients in over 200 disinfectants currently recommended by the U.S. EPA for use to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus. The amounts of these compounds used in household, workplace, and industry settings has very likely increased, and usage will continue to be elevated given the scope of the pandemic. QACs have been previously detected in wastewater, surface waters, and sediments, and effects on antibiotic resistance have been explored. Thus, it is important to assess potential environmental and engineering impacts of elevated QAC usage, which may include disruption of wastewater treatment unit operations, proliferation of antibiotic resistance, formation of nitrosamine disinfection byproducts, and impacts on biota in surface waters. The threat caused by COVID-19 is clear, and a reasonable response is elevated use of QACs to mitigate spread of infection. Exploration of potential effects, environmental fate, and technologies to minimize environmental releases of QACs, however, is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-631
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Volume7
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Ancillary support for this effort was provided by the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust fund (M.L. 2017, Chp. 96, Sec. 2, Subd. 04a) as recommended by the Legislative and Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.

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