Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common household chemicals responsible for reproductive declines in mice

Date:
August 13, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Researchers who were using a disinfectant when handling mice have discovered that two active ingredients in it cause declines in mouse reproduction. The ingredients are found in commercial and householder cleaners, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, preservatives in makeup and other cosmetics, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets. "If these chemicals are toxic to humans, they could also be contributing to the decline in human fertility seen in recent decades, as well as the increased need for assistive reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization," one researcher said.

House cleaning products (stock image). The two active ingredients linked to reproductive problems in mice are typically listed by their abbreviations, ADBAC and DDAC, on ingredient lists. They are found in commercial and householder cleaners, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, preservatives in makeup and other cosmetics, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets.
Credit: hues / Fotolia

Virginia Tech researchers who were using a disinfectant when handling mice have discovered that two active ingredients in it cause declines in mouse reproduction.

Related Articles


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

"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."

Hrubec and her research team at the veterinary college saw a decline in reproductive performance of her mice.

Stumped by her initial findings, Hrubec noticed animal care staff in her laboratory wetting their hands with a disinfectant before touching the mice.

This observation led her to a letter published in Nature by co-author Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University, who had made the same discovery. These two independent observations were the impetus for the study.

When Hrubec tested whether the disinfectant might be causing reproductive decline, she came up with the unexpected finding.

Hrubec and Hunt are co-authors of the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Reproductive Toxicology, a journal on the effects of toxic substances on the reproductive system.

"These chemicals have been around for 50 years," said 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."

The two active ingredients in the disinfectant -- alkyl dimethyl benzalkonium chloride and didecyl dimethylammonium chloride -- are typically listed by their abbreviations, ADBAC and DDAC, on ingredient lists.

They 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.

"We just tested the two active ingredients in the disinfectant, not the entire class of compounds," Hrubec explained. "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."

The research team found that the female mice took longer to get pregnant and had fewer offspring when they did. Forty percent of the mothers exposed to ADBAC and DDAC died in late pregnancy or during delivery.

Graduate students Vanessa Melin and Haritha Potineni in the veterinary college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology assisted with the study.

Hrubec drew comparisons between her research team's work and similar research on bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA. In 1998, Washington State's Hunt discovered the toxic effects of BPA, which could be found on baby bottles, medical and dental devices, and coatings on beverage cans, among other uses.

"If these chemicals are toxic to humans, they could also be contributing to the decline in human fertility seen in recent decades, as well as the increased need for assistive reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization," Hrubec said.

Quaternary ammonium compounds like the ones used for the disinfectant in Hrubec's lab were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s. Although some toxicity testing took place during this period, it was conducted by chemical manufacturers and not published.

"These industry-sponsored studies took place before toxicity studies were standardized," Hrubec said. "In the 1980s, toxicity researchers developed and implemented Good Laboratory Practices, or GLPs. These are guidelines and rules for conducting research so that it is reproducible and reliable. All of the research on these chemicals happened before that."

Although these chemicals are harmful to mice, Hrubec explained that they might not be dangerous for humans.

But considering the widespread human exposure to the compounds through cleaning products and disinfectants, more research is needed to verify human implications.

Hrubec noted that an epidemiological study could determine whether people who have a high rate of exposure to the chemicals, such as healthcare workers or restaurant servers, have a harder time becoming pregnant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. The original article was written by Michael Sutphin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vanessa E. Melin, Haritha Potineni, Patricia Hunt, Jodi Griswold, Bill Siems, Stephen R. Werre, Terry C. Hrubec. Exposure to common quaternary ammonium disinfectants decreases fertility in mice. Reproductive Toxicology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.07.071

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Common household chemicals responsible for reproductive declines in mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140813173639.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2014, August 13). Common household chemicals responsible for reproductive declines in mice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140813173639.htm
Virginia Tech. "Common household chemicals responsible for reproductive declines in mice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140813173639.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins