Personal Health

Why Is the CDC Recommending Lysol For H1N1?

Another company in bed with the CDC, should be no surprise, but it's still ugly.

A few days ago, I saw an ad on television proclaiming that using Lysol will keep your countertops safe from H1N1 germs. This sounded hugely useful to me in case someone with the flu starts hacking and wiping snot all over your kitchen and bathroom because you certainly can’t inoculate a countertop and you wouldn’t want the poor thing to get sick. It also occurred to me that if there is a shortage of vaccine (although from news reports in recent days, it sounds like exactly the opposite is true and there is glut of the vaccine because apparently enough people aren’t properly scared), maybe we could all just spray ourselves with Lysol.

We don’t use commercial store-bought cleaners in our house because of asthma and chemical sensitivity issues.  That said, the house is clean and we  rarely get the flu not to mention we save a fortune every year by using such dirt cheap substitutes as baking soda, vinegar and wait for it…soap.

So being a tad cynical about these things (which you may have already gathered), I decided to take a little look-see atLysol’s site which, after providing us with the facts about H1N1 (not that they want us to be scared or anything),  helpfully tells us which of their products will kill it:

  • LYSOL® Disinfectant Spray
  • LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes
  • LYSOL® All Purpose Cleaners (both pourable and trigger products)

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database, there are multiple versions of these products.  For Lysol Brand All Purpose Cleaner With Bleach (trigger bottle), the database provides the following information:

PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENT: Hazard to Humans and Domestic Animals. Warning: Causes eye and skin irritation. Do not get in eyes, on skin or clothing. Remove contaminated clothing and wash clothing before reuse. For sensitive skin or prolonged use, wear gloves. Odors may irritate. Use in well ventilated area. Avoid breathing of vapors. Not recommended for use by persons with heart or chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema or obstructive lung disease. Harmful if swallowed.

Last I heard, the flu definitely qualifies as a respiratory disease, so why would you use this product to fight it?  I decided to look a tad further and what I found next just floored me–the Center for Disease Control specifically recommends Lysol by brand name!According to theCenter For Disease Control’s “Ounce of Prevention Campaign:

Arming health educators and consumers with information as well as practical and useful tips on preventing infectious diseases,the Ounce of Prevention campaign was created by the National Center for Infectious Diseases, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., the makers of LYSOL® Brand Products.

Talk about a marketing coup!  Why Lysol instead of say Purell, whose dispensers have been popping up faster than dandelions in spring.  According to the EPA, there are a whopping 500 products that will kill Influenza A on hard non-porous surfaces.  Um wait a minute, weren’t we talking about H1N1?  Not to worry,

EPA believes, based on available scientific information, that the currently registered influenza A virus products will be effective against the 2009-H1N1 flu strain and other influenza A virus strains on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Guess we’ll have to take that on faith.  But many of these products, like Lysol are contraindicated for anyone with respiratory issues.  In addition, with mounting concerns about the overuse of antibiotics, both in people and in our food supply and cases of drug-resistant TB being reported there is also the concern that we are buying a huge risk with the over-use of these products.

But the big question remains, how did Lysol get the very cushy real estate on the CDC site which is tantamount to recommending it over other products.  You don’t have to look very far to find out just how incestuous the relationship is between the governmental bodies that oversee our health policies and corporate America.  Just recently, former CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding took a position with Merck & Co. in their vaccine division:

“I am very excited to be joining Merck where I can help to expand access to vaccines around the world,” added Gerberding, who will head up the company’s $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and  pneumonia.

The CDC under Gerberding has strongly recommended Merck’s Gardisil vaccine to protect against HPV and cervical cancer for all young girls, despite significant doubts as to whether this is good medical practice.  The vaccine  costs approximately $375 according to the CDC, which needless to say has enriched Merck’s coffers substantially.

The CDC has also strongly recommended the use of Tamiflu to fight the flu, but it’s effectiveness has also come under scrutiny:

Nick Fremantle and Melanie Calvert from the University of Birmingham reviewed additional studies and concluded the drug may reduce the risk of pneumonia in otherwise healthy people who get the flu, but the benefit is probably very small and needs to be weighed against potential side effects.

Stay tuned to find out which lucky CDC official will be jumping ship to go work for Lysol.  Eat your heart out Purell.

Lucinda Marshall is the Founder and Director of the Feminist Peace Network. She is the author of the FPN blog as well as Reclaiming Medusa.
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