Why can’t we make more disinfectants?
Disinfectants and sanitizers that help fight the novel coronavirus may be absent from store shelves for weeks, as chemical manufacturers struggle to get the raw materials they need to make the products.
A lot of the raws materials are not made in the USA!
The raw materials needed for cleaning supplies “can’t solely be sourced from the U.S.,” said John Nothdurft, director of government affairs for ISSA-The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association. The group is calling on the Trump administration to drop tariffs on Chinese imports. China is one of the largest partners for chemical trade with the U.S.
Getting raw materials from overseas can be expensive. Companies that want to ship products by air are paying eight times higher prices than usual, said Robert F. Helminiak, an attorney and vice president at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.
Quaternary ammonium compounds, the active ingredients in many such products, work against viruses by stripping them of their lipid envelope, leaving them unable to penetrate cells. Most disinfectants of this type need about 10 minutes of dwell time to fully disinfect hard surfaces.
The three big suppliers
The main producers of quaternary ammonium compounds in the US are Lonza, Pilot Chemical, and Stepan. They make quats by reacting tertiary amines with alkyl halides. The tertiary amines are made from ammonia and alcohols.
Companies like Bullen purchase their quat for making the finished disinfectant products from these suppliers. The main suppliers do not produce and sell finished products.
Industry watchers are confident that any supply problems won’t last long. “The supply chain is resilient and will rebound,” says Steve Bennett, head of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Household & Commercial Products Association, a trade group. ”But it does take a little bit of time.”
Bullen continues to produce a wide variety of disinfectants but a lot of the concentrates are on allocation due to supply chain issues. Ask your sales person for details.
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