Sample Letter for Schools: Quit the Quats

To the principal:

As a parent/parents of students at (NAME OF SCHOOL), I/we am writing to you with information and concerns about certain cleaning products used in the school.  Specifically, I/we have recently become aware of the potential harms of certain disinfectant chemicals called quaternary ammonium compounds (or “quats” for short). These chemicals are commonly found in disinfectant products and are certainly potent against germs, but unfortunately, they often much more powerful than needed, leading to unintended health consequences for those who are exposed to them. Specifically, these chemicals have been linked to increased asthma and breathing problems in cleaning workers that use them. Quats are also powerful irritants. Skin exposure to quats can lead to dermatitis (skin rashes). There is emerging evidence that quats may also be linked to reproductive problems. (There is a good reason that many cleaners containing quats have complex safety instructions – sometimes requiring eye protection, respiratory protection and careful washing of hands after use.)

I/We noticed that (NAME OF PRODUCT(S) USED at SCHOOL) is/are at school – and it/they contain/s quats as the active ingredient. The use of this product/these products in the school means that teachers, custodians and our students are regularly exposed to this chemical. {IF THE PRODUCT IS A SELF-SERVE DISINFECTANT WIPE USED IN CLASSROOMS YOU CAN ADD:]  While I/we appreciate that the need for convenient wipe products in classrooms to make daily cleaning easier, I/we would prefer a safer alternative be used. Disinfectant wipes are technically pesticides, and should never be handled by children. It is also especially inconvenient for teachers to have quat-containing disinfectant wipes that requires washing hands thoroughly immediately afterwards in order to safely use it.

As the principal of a school that promotes health and wellness in its children, I/we am/are asking you to consider replacing your current products with alternative cleaning products which do not contain quats. (IF APPLICABLE: Also I/we ask that teachers be instructed not to include quat-containing wipes on back-to-school shopping lists. Wipes made with hydrogen peroxide or lactic acid, or simply baby wipes can be excellent alternatives.) Giving up the use of cleaners with quats doesn’t mean having a dirtier school or more sickness in the classroom. There are numerous effective, inexpensive and commonly used non-antibacterial cleaners which can make places spotless.

Enclosed please find some fact sheets with additional information about quats, as well as resources on how to find safer alternatives.

Thanks so much for considering my/our request.



Resources to Include with Letter

Fact Sheets

GO TO – Quit Quats main page