Household Disinfectants Won't Protect Against Anthrax

Nov. 2, 2001
The Consumer Specialty Products Group warns that household disinfectants are not protection against biological agents like anthrax.

We''ve all been forced to learn more about a disease -- anthrax -- that previously only farmers worried about. We want to protect ourselves and our families from possible exposure and sickness, and the federal government is telling people who believe they might have touched something contaminated by anthrax to wash their hands and contact their local authorities. But how effective are regular household cleaners, or even institutional strength cleaners for that matter?

Not too effective, according to the Consumer Specialty Products Association. That group is warning that household and institutional disinfectants should not be viewed as a defense against the risks of anthrax.

"Household disinfectants provide important protection under normal circumstances, but their usefulness would be limited in an anthrax exposure," says Christopher Cathcart, CSPA''s president and COO. "If anyone feels they have been exposed to anthrax, they should immediately move away from the suspicious material, notify health and law enforcement authorities and take common sense hygiene measures, such as washing hands and changing clothes."

CSPA emphasizes that despite the limitations of common household disinfectant products in dealing with the types of biological agents that might be used by terrorists, they still play an important role in decreasing the spread of common infectious agents such as those that cause colds, flu, intestinal viruses and food poisoning.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to prioritize the review and registration of products that can be used against anthrax.

For additional information about the risks from anthrax and other biological agents, log onto the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at or call them at 1-800-311-3435.

by Sandy Smith

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