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The WP_Query documentation on the codex specifically says: 'attachment' - an attachment. Whilst the default WP_Query post_status is 'publish', attachments have a default post_status of 'inherit'. This means no attachments will be returned unless you also explicitly set post_status to 'inherit' or 'any'. I am not sure why it was working before ...
See this WordPress support page for an explanation of what the first line does. The second line you can remove and it will get rid of those archive entries from the header output HTML. For the SEO impact, search engines should be just fine as long as you have a site map for your posts.
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