Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are widely used in consumer products because of their unique antibacterial properties, and dishwashing detergents are a major source of exposure through oral, inhalation, and dermal routes. The three classes of QACs, including benzalkonium chloride (BAC), n-alkyldimethylethylbenzylammonium chloride (ADEBAC), and di-n-alkyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC), in spray and non-spray types of dishwashing detergents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. A tiered risk assessment approach was also considered. In the Tier 1 assessment, the mean and worst-case exposure were estimated to screen for rough exposure and risk levels. In the Tier 2 assessment, mean and upper-tail exposure levels were calculated based on the exposure parameters of Korean consumers using Monte Carlo simulation. QACs had a low frequency of detection of up to 20% in dishwashing detergents, and the contents of detected QACs varied depending on the individual samples. Based on the results of the Tier 1 assessment, BACs and DDACs posed potential health risks via inhalation and dermal routes. Tier 2 assessment suggested that the current level of oral and dermal exposure of Korean consumers to QACs in dishwashing detergents is unlikely to pose a health risk, even for upper-tail exposure groups. However, the present results suggest that spray-type DDACs may pose a health risk in the upper-tail inhalation exposure group, and further investigation is required to clarify this risk.
- Dishwashing detergent
- Margin of safety
- Quaternary ammonium compounds
- Tiered risk assessment