VCOM Research Day Program Book 2023

Medical Student Research Publ ic Health

13 Ongoing Analysis of Changes in Disinfectant Practices Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Dental Clinics

Hannah L Paros; Lauren Olevnik; Twyla Lee; Theresa J McCann; Terry C Hrubec Corresponding author:

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus

Dental Healthcare Professionals are continuously in contact with disinfecting chemicals throughout their workday. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfection practices have been reevaluated. SAR CoV-2 can linger on surfaces for up to nine days, making consistent disinfection of communal surfaces vital. More than half of the disinfecting products approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency effective against SARS-CoV-2 contain a Quaternary Ammonium Compound (QAC). Since their discovery in 1915, the use of QAC containing products has increased and are now used in a variety of products including detergents, emulsifying agents, deodorizers, hair products, and surface disinfectants. Though long believed to be harmless, QAC exposure has been linked to asthma and contact dermatitis in humans, and developmental, reproductive, and immune toxicity in animals. Recent studies have shown that 80% of the population

contains QAC residues in their blood, and these are correlated in a dose-dependent manner with markers of inflammation and inhibition of mitochondrial function. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor exposure to QACs has increased. Given the increased use of disinfectants in healthcare facilities, it is likely that workers have been increasingly exposed to these potentially harmful disinfectant products. Dental offices are unique in that patients must remove their masks to be treated, which puts individuals at a higher risk of transmission of the virus. This study aims to assess the changes in disinfection products and procedures in the dental healthcare settings of 8 states representative of the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesize that the use of disinfectants that contain QACs has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dental offices were contacted and surveyed about changes in disinfectant product use within different areas of their

practice including the waiting area and patient rooms. We found that 75.0% of practices have changed their disinfection protocols and 48.0% of practices have increased the frequency of cleaning practices. Of the respondents, 76% utilized QAC containing cleaners, 80% increased cleaning frequency, and 27% changed the type of cleaner. The high prevalence of QAC use in clinics, as reflected in this data, suggest that exposure to office personnel has increased throughout the course of the pandemic. This study is part of an ongoing project to assess changes in disinfection practices nationwide. This research was funded in part by VCOM and is IRB exempt.


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