BBB National Programs Archive

NARB Recommends Guardian Technologies Discontinue HEPA Filter Claims Based on LMS 2000 Testing for Germ Guardian Air Purifiers and Replacement Filters

New York, NY – Aug. 20, 2018 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board has recommended that Guardian Technologies, LLC, the maker of GermGuardian Air Purifiers and Replacement Filters, discontinue certain advertising claims for the products, including claims that are based on the results of proprietary testing.

NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Guardian’s advertising claims were initially challenged by Dyson, Inc., a competing manufacturer of air purifiers and replacement filters, before the National Advertising Division.

At the center of Dyson’s challenge were the advertiser’s express and implied claims related to High Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA-level air filtration and the testing that formed the basis for the claims.

Guardian’s testing is based on a test methodology (LMS 2000) developed and used exclusively by LMS technologies, Guardian’s testing company.   Dyson argued before the NAD that the LMS 2000 protocol is not consumer relevant and is easier to pass than any of the standard protocols for a number of reasons.

The NAD found that the LMS 2000 test did not provide a reasonable basis for Guardian’s claims that its filters provide true HEPA filtration because of two fatal flaws:

The LMS 2000 test used a salt-based aerosol spray to challenge the filter instead of the oil-based aerosol spray specified in other test protocols, and the LMS 2000 test did not neutralize the filter’s electrostatic charge prior to testing.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue its “HEPA Type” and “HEPAFresh” claims, findings that Guardian agreed to comply with and did not appeal to the NARB.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, the NARB panel concluded that the evidence “did not contain sufficient information about the typical air composition in office/residential settings – including the relative prevalence of different types of indoor airborne pollutants and their attributes such as physical composition and aerodynamic size – to resolve the argument as to whether oil-based or salt-based aerosols more closely approximate pollutants typically found in office/residential air.”

In its decision, the panel said that it found that “most relevant HEPA tests (i.e., those relating to filtering of airborne particles) use an oil-based aerosol to challenge the filter, and Guardian has not met its burden of showing that tests using a salt-based aerosol spray provide an equally reliable measure of whether HEPA standards have been met. The panel thus finds that the tests relied on by Guardian do not provide a reasonable basis to support claims that its air purifiers and filters provide true HEPA filtration.”

Further, the panel said, the evidence didn’t demonstrate that Guardian’s testing provided a reliable basis to determine whether HEPA standards have been met in accordance with reasonable consumer expectations.

The panel recommended that Guardian discontinue the challenged HEPA claims based on LMS 2000 testing. The panel encouraged industry efforts to provide clearer standards for HEPA testing, and noted that its decision does not preclude Guardian from making HEPA claims for its air purifiers and filters that are supported by reliable testing that meets accepted industry standards for establishing HEPA filter efficiency.

Guardian, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “agrees to comply with NARB’s decision and not rely on LMS 2000 as substantiation for its HEPA claims. While Guardian disagrees with the conclusion and believes LMS 2000 is a reliable test that is accepted by the industry, Guardian has tested all of its filters using a test that all parties have agreed meets accepted industry standards to support its HEPA claims.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.