Benzalkonium Chloride, also known as alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride or ADBAC, is a chemical that is found in many household and medical products. In small concentrations, ADBAC has been found to be harmless to humans. ADBAC is an effective antiseptic and is used in many applications in the health and household-cleaning markets.
Some nasal sprays utilize ADBAC as an anti-microbial and preservative agent. There have been some concerns about the safety of ADBAC when used in nasal sprays. The American College of Toxicology performed a study to assess the toxicity of ADBAC when used in nasal sprays. ADBAC was found safe in small concentrations. However, ADBAC may have adverse side effects on nasal tissue in higher concentrations.
ADBAC is found in several antiseptic wipes as an alternative to alcohol. ADBAC wipes are typically used to sanitize skin before an intravenous needle is inserted, or before urine collection. Wipes containing ADBAC are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for general antiseptic use if they comply with FDA regulation and policies.
ADBAC is used as the active ingredient in several popular surface cleaners. When used as a surface cleaning agent, ADBAC acts as a very effective antimicrobial and anti-fungal chemical. ADBAC should only be used in very small concentrations to prevent skin and eye irritation.
Other Medical Uses
Some topical medicines use ADBAC to treat viral infections, such as herpes simplex. Research at the Sterling-Winthrop Research Institute determined that small concentrations of ADBAC were found effective in treating the herpes simplex virus when ADBAC was applied in a cream or gel. Other potential uses for ADBAC include the sanitation of wounds that may harbor the rabies or canine distemper viruses.
References and ResourcesEnvironmentalChemistry.com: Ammonium, Benzyldimethyldodecyl-, Chloride
American Academy of Otolaryngology: Safety Review of Benzalkonium Chloride
DailyMed: Anti-Bacterical Hand Sanitizing Wipes
Household Products Database: Lysol Brand All Purpose Cleaner
Applied Microbiology: Inactivation of Viruses by Benzalkonium Chloride