Recently, Vaniman Manufacturing Co. received a warning letter from the FTC regarding a recent COVID-19 related blog article we wrote about the efficacy of our HEPA filtration systems as it pertains to COVID-19.
While we took this claim seriously, the situation is not as controversial as you might think.
We were one out of hundreds of companies to receive a “warning” letter.
Here’s the letter we received:
To summarize, we made an assumption, based on previous scientific evidence, claiming that COVID-19 could be captured by HEPA filtration systems such as our Pure Breeze Air Purifier. This claim was deemed to be “unsubstantiated” by the FTC since there have been no studies using COVID-19 specifically as of yet.
We immediately contacted and worked with the FTC (who were extremely helpful and nice) to understand their objections and remedy this issue and are now compliant—but wanted to provide some clarity on the situation.
First, let’s be clear about a few key things:
- NO manufacturer of HEPA air filtration devices can make a claim that COVID-19 can be captured until there is research performed specifically using COVID-19 to support it.
- While COVID-19 itself has not been tested (these things take time), many viruses and particles even smaller than COVID-19 HAVE been. See our article for information on those studies.
- In short, we made a deduction based on previous scientific evidence. The FTC doesn’t want anyone to make a COVID-19 related claim until COVID-19 is tested to avoid, in their words, a “false sense of security” for consumers.
It was definitely not our intent to mislead anyone and we are now in compliance with the FTC recommendations.
After working directly with the FTC, they wanted to make it clear that a HEPA Air Purifier is not a guarantee to prevent transmission of airborne COVID-19 particles as they can potentially infect someone before the filtration system can capture them.
Essentially, no system can offer 100% capture.
Additionally, HEPA filtration systems can’t protect you from surface contamination which is why having an infection control procedure in use, as recommended by the CDC, is important.
We were one of out hundreds of companies who received these warning letters as part of a national action the FTC took in lieu of the recent pandemic.
So what’s this mean going forward?
The bottom line is this: We cannot claim our air filtration system captures COVID-19.
Here’s what we can claim:
- Our Pure Breeze HEPA Air Purifier is still 99.97% efficient at capturing microbes and particles down to 0.3 Micron.
- Studies have shown HEPA filtration system are capable of capturing particles smaller than 0.1 Micron.
- HEPA filtration systems have been scientifically proven to capture many different types of microbes and viruses, including simulated SARS-CoV-2 in a controlled setting (CDC: Efficacy of Portable Air Cleaners and Masking for Reducing Indoor Exposure to Simulated Exhaled SARS-CoV-2 Aerosols — United States, 2021)
- As of June 2021, the Pure Breeze HEPA Air Purifier has been proven to reduce bacterial loads in a real-world functioning dental clinic (Dental Advisor).
- A HEPA Air Purifier is just one step in infection prevention and not a guarantee of safety.
- The use of HEPA filtered air is STILL recommended by the CDC, as is noted in the most recent recommendations under Ventilation in Buildings.
- As of October 2021, a real-world study reported on by Nature.com (which had yet to be peer reviewed) from a hospital in the UK found that HEPA filtration efficiently removes the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the air.
We hope this clarifies this issue and sincerely apologize if anyone was misled by our initial claim. Our goal here at Vaniman has always been to be as transparent and helpful as possible to our customers which is why we wrote our initial article.
Should you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to us as we are happy to provide any further information.
Until then, we will continue to do our part as a US Manufacturer to provide products and solutions to aid in infection control.