How Toxic Are Disinfectants and Where Can I Find Out How Toxic They Are?

With the increased frequency of use, the toxicity of disinfectants matters more than ever before. Facilities are trying to keep everyone safe from germs, but in doing so, they are also using potentially hazardous chemicals. It creates a paradoxical process that can cancel out any good intentions to keep people protected. Don’t assume that because your school or business is using an “EPA-approved” disinfectant, that it is safe for use every day, all day. Many of the “approved” disinfectants are actually extremely toxic. 


To be clear, please don’t misconstrue “EPA-approved” as the EPA endorsing a product or service. The EPA (or any government agency) does NOT endorse products. Rather, EPA approval means that a product has been approved for use… in a regulated manner.  Regulated manner means chemicals must have proper usage, storage, and disposal directions for the hazardous chemicals being used. That is why there are agencies like OSHA to monitor workplace safety and ensure proper processes. Considering this, there ARE better alternatives out there and it’s important to understand how to find them. We are here today to help you decipher for yourself.

What is an SDS and What Can be Found in it?

Every school and business is required by OSHA to provide information about chemicals that are used on site and any potential hazards they may contain. Every chemical that is used should have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) which provides details of what the chemical actually is.  SDSs are normally several pages in length and highlight critical information about the chemicals such as: Hazard Information, Chemical Ingredients, First Aid Measures, and Firefighting Methods. Along with several other sections, SDSs will inform you about all of the potential risks that may be involved with using the product.  You can typically find SDSs online: just type in the product name with “SDS” after it and do some digging.  You can also search the product manufacturer’s website.

What is HMIS and Why is It So Important?

According to OSHA, “Hazard Statements describe the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including, where appropriate, the degree of hazard.”  Every product is evaluated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and is given a detailed review of the risks and the product, which corresponds to a rating as shown above.  For NFPA and HMIS ratings on the SDS, chemicals with 0’s in every category are available in the marketplace and are minimally hazardous.  For GHS scores of 5 in each category also show minimal hazard ratings.  

Figure 1

It is time that we do better for our children, employees and customers.  Find out what your school or business is using – call/email and ask if you have to.  Look up the SDS.  Compare it to hypochlorous ( Demand a better alternative.

More next week on how to properly use our products and a simple explanation of cleaning versus disinfecting and why they are both important.


“EPA Label Review Manual”, II. General claims. Ch. 12, Labeling Claims, 12-1. 

“Hazard Communication Standard: Safety Data Sheets.” OSHA, 

“Hazard Communication Standard: Labels and Pictograms.” OSHA,

“NFPA OSHA Label Comparison Quickcard.” OSHA, 

“OSHA Quickcard.” OSHA,