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Disinfection in the 21st Century: Is There Harm in Being Clean? 

Disinfection in the 21st Century: Is There Harm in Being Clean?
Disinfection in the 21st Century: Is There Harm in Being Clean?

Patricia A. Hunt

, Terry C. Hrubec

, and Vanessa E. Melin

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date: 22 June 2018

Use of personal care products and household and commercial cleaners with antibacterial capabilities has increased human exposure to an array of chemicals. Because these products are washed down the drain, they are discharged with wastewater into fields, lakes, streams, oceans, and municipal water systems. This chapter focuses on the uses, persistence, routes of human exposure, and potential health effects of four common environmental chemicals or chemical classes—parabens, triclosan, triclocarban, and quaternary ammonium compounds—because exposure to them is ubiquitous, environmental contamination is significant, and evidence of harm has emerged. These man-made environmental contaminants illustrate how the rapid introduction of new chemicals into consumer products must be weighed against the unavoidable environmental contamination and potential biologic effects that may ensue.

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