NARB Finds Supported Claims by Molekule that the PECO Filter of its MH1 Air Purifier Can Address Bioaerosol and VOC Pollution; Recommends Discontinuance or Modification of Other Claims, Including Discontinuance of Superiority Claims vs. HEPA Filters
For Immediate Release
Contact: Saveeta Dhanai, NARB Coordinator, 212.705.0115 / firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – March 26, 2020 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (“NARB”) has determined that Molekule Inc. properly supported claims that the PECO technology filter of its MH1 Air Purifier (“MH1”) can address bioaerosol and VOC pollution. The panel further found supported the general efficacy claim that “Molekule’s revolutionary nanotechnology destroys pollutants at the molecular level.” However, NARB recommended that Molekule discontinue or modify certain non-quantified pollution elimination claims for its MH1 device, and discontinue the challenged comparative superiority claims versus air purifiers that contain HEPA filters.
NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. The advertising at issue had been challenged by Dyson, Inc. before the National Advertising Division (“NAD”). NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. Following NAD’s decision, Molekule appealed NAD’s findings regarding its non-quantified pollution elimination claims and comparative superiority vs. HEPA claims.
Molekule’s MH1 products use a pre-filter and a Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (“PECO”) filter, whereas Dyson’s air purifier products rely on High Efficiency Particulate Air (“HEPA”) filters and carbon filters. The advertising in question both discusses the benefits of PECO technology and compares those benefits to HEPA-filter technology. The two technologies act differently to reduce airborne pollutants. HEPA filters trap impurities as they pass through the filter, while filters based on PECO technology were asserted to destroy, rather than trap, the impurities.
The two systems also differ with respect to volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), certain types of carbon compounds that can participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions. The parties explained that VOCs are gases, not particles, and that HEPA filters are not designed to, and do not, trap VOCs. Rather, air filtration systems using HEPA filters also employ a carbon filter to address VOCs.
In the underlying decision, NAD found unsubstantiated, among other claims, quantified pollution-removal claims (for example “destroys 1 million allergens in 4 minutes”), references by the advertiser to certain published tests as “independent testing,” and challenged allergy and asthma symptom relief claims and recommended that those claims be discontinued. In response, Molekule agreed to implement NAD’s recommendations.
The NARB panel determined that the advertiser properly supported claims that its PECO technology filter can address bioaerosol and VOC pollution. However, NARB agreed with NAD’s conclusions recommending discontinuance of Molekule’s claims that its MH1 device removes or destroys all pollutants in a room or completely eliminates such pollutants. NARB also recommended, based on the state of the evidence in the NAD record, discontinuance of the challenged claims asserting superiority of Molekule’s PECO filters compared to HEPA filters.
Molekule stated that it will comply with the panel’s recommendations.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): NARB is the appellate body for advertising industry self-regulation. NARB’s membership is composed of 87 professionals from three different categories: national advertisers (49 members), advertising agencies (26 members), and public members (12) made up of academics and former members of the public sector.
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