Pesticide on facial tissue?
October 29, 2005 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Anti-Viral Kleenex: am I putting pesticide in my nose?

On the box of KLEENEX® Anti-Viral tissues there is a warning that is normally found on pesticides and other nasty chemicals in the garage: It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. But the active ingredients listed are merely citric acid and sodium lauryl sulfate, both of which are fairly common ingredients (separately) in soap and soda pop, etc. I found at least three different shampoos and body washes in my shower that have both chemicals, but the Federal! Warning! is nowhere to be found. So my question is, does the government require the warning label on the box of Kleenex just because it makes the claim of anti-virus properties -- and not for the chemicals involved? Conversely, if a company sold bottles of plain tap water but targeted a non-typical purpose, could the company be required to label them with bizarre warnings? For example, if Miller Lite [basically the same as tap water] was marketed as a "sidewalk moistener", might the overbearing government regulations stipulate warning labels such as "sidewalk may become slippery if product freezes...", etc.
posted by fuzzy_wuzzy to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Maybe it's the concentrations or the formulation? Personally I don't see how either if those is anti-viral but hopefully someone will know. Sodium laurel sulfate is a just a surfactant, as far as I know.

The real risk of this current rage of anti-microbial products is to the environment and to public health. Long term low dose exposure only breeds resistance and a lot of that stuff is horribly toxic to amphibians, fish larvae and other aquatic species. Seriously, you wouldn't believe where they find this stuff and in what concentrations.
posted by fshgrl at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2005

sodium lauryl sulfate is used to make soaps sudsier, I think. It's very common. Citric Acid is a byproduct of biological life, and present in most all cells (again, IIRC). I can't imagine either one has much of an anti-viral effect, other then maybe through acidity.
posted by delmoi at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2005

I think the federal law stuff has to do with Huffing.
posted by delmoi at 7:26 PM on October 29, 2005

Basically, according to the EPA, yes. They are considered anti-bacterial pesticides. They have a fact sheet on Sodium Lauryl Phosphate (PDF). Yes, it matters whether it's being marketed as a pesticide (disinfectant) or not.
posted by smackfu at 7:49 PM on October 29, 2005

but anti-bacterial pesticides do not make for an anti-viral kleenex. anti-bacterials and anti-virals are two totally separate things. i think the anti-viral kleenex is a marketing ploy and i, for one, stay away from them.
posted by brandz at 8:29 PM on October 29, 2005

Further, conventional medical wisdom is that all this anti-stuff being so heavily used (not just in consumer toiletries but also being overprescribed by trained doctors) is simply helping nature to quickly isolate the strains that are resistant to our weapons. And then the fun will really start.
posted by intermod at 9:31 PM on October 29, 2005

The SLS may strip off the outer layer of lipid on enveloped viruses, and possibly could denature some viral proteins. Sodium dodecyl sulfate is used all the time in laboratories for the second purpose. A similar effect could occur in bacteria where the SLS dissolves away the bacterial membrane, porating or otherwise disrupting it. At a high enough concentration, very few microbes are resistant to this treatment. However, this effect is likely to be very mild at the concentrations found in the kleenex, and they're probably worthless as any real barrier against disease transmission. On the plus side, the mode of action of antimicrobial surfactants is basically thermodynamic, and there's no specific site for resistance to evolve, so you don't need to worry.
So why the warning? Since it's supposed to be used against human diseases, the kleenex likely falls under the classification of a medical device. This may sound weird, but almost every non-drug thing you can buy at a pharmacy is classified this way, including wooden tounge depressors and condoms. The goofy label comes about as part of the requirements of this class. Shampoo isn't claimed to be therapeutic or prophylactic, so the requirement for the misuse warning isn't present.
posted by monocyte at 9:40 PM on October 29, 2005

I seem to recall SLS being rather bad for one's health.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 AM on October 30, 2005

Another part of the advertising on the Anti-Viral kleenex states that "99% of all viruses killed within 15 minutes!". Don't 99% of all viruses die within 15 minutes of being outside of the human body?
posted by anonymoose at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2005

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