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Quaternium-15 — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, November 23, 2017 by

Quaternium-15 is classified as a quaternary ammonium salt. It is commonly used as a preservative in various cosmetic and industrial products. The chemical contains strong antibacterial properties and acts as a disinfectant and formaldehyde-releasing agent.

List of known side effects

Quaternium-15 exposure may take place through various routes such as respiratory tract, digestive tract, and direct skin and eye contact. The highly carcinogenic compound is known to target the brain and the central nervous system. A material safety data sheet released by Spectrum Chemical reveals that prolonged or repeated ingestion may lead to serious behavioral issues. Likewise, the data sheet stresses that the toxic chemical may negatively affect the overall blood circulation and induce related conditions such as normocytic anemia and altered white blood cell count.

The safety data sheet also shows that quaternium-15 exposure via inhalation may cause damaging effects on the respiratory tract. According to the guidelines, inhaling the toxic compound may result in respiratory tract irritation. Ingesting the hazardous chemical may lead to adverse digestive woes as well. The safety data sheet stresses that chemical exposure may cause liver damage, hypermotility, and diarrhea.

Furthermore, the harmful chemical is found to cause severe skin irritation and dermatitis. The data sheet stresses that the chemical can be absorbed by the skin and result in allergic reactions and systemic conditions. The guidelines add that wet skin is more susceptible to the compound’s damaging effects. Adverse skin reactions are also more likely to occur following exposure to aqueous solutions compared with powder form. The chemical is found to cause mild eye irritation as well.

Pub Chem entry has revealed that quaternium-15 may impact environmental health too. According to the article, the harmful compound may contaminate waterways and negatively affect aquatic ecosystems and animals.

Body systems affected by quaternium-15

Quaternium-15 is notoriously detrimental to the respiratory system’s overall health. Likewise, the toxic chemical is found to impact the digestive tract and the central nervous system. The chemical is also known to negatively affect both eye and skin health.

Items that can contain quaternium-15

An entry posted on the Household Products Database website reveals that quaternium-15 can be found in various cosmetic and personal care products, aerosol sprays, and arts and crafts items. Likewise, the toxic compound is a key ingredient in different cleaning products, leather treatments, and car care products. The chemical comes in aqueous solutions and powder forms.

How to avoid quaternium-15

safety data sheet released by Science Lab advises wearing protective clothing, gloves, and respiratory equipment to reduce the likelihood of chemical exposure. The data sheet also recommends that work spaces install adequate ventilation to lower the odds of exposure. The safety guidelines also stress that people exposed to the toxic chemical should contact a poison control center or seek immediate medical help. Likewise, the data sheet suggests that people immediately evacuate the area to avoid direct contact if an accidental spill occurs.

Where to learn more


Quaternium-15 causes behavioral issues and blood conditions such as normocytic anemia and altered white blood cell count.

Quaternium-15 exposure leads to respiratory tract irritation, liver damage, hypermotility, and diarrhea.

Quaternium-15 is particularly detrimental to both the digestive tract and the central nervous system.

Quaternium-15 negatively affects the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin.

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