VIA: ELECTRONIC MAIL
RE: BIO-CHEMICAL OR NUCLEAR PROTECTION CLAIMS MADE BY YOUR COMPANY
DATE: APRIL 29, 2003
FTC staff has reviewed marketing claims on your website relating to bio-chemical or nuclear agents. We remind you that the FTC Act requires that health and safety-related claims, such as claims that a gas mask, respirator or protective clothing can protect against contaminants, including NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) contaminants, must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. In other words, it is against the law to make health and safety claims without scientific support or to exaggerate deceptively the benefits of products or services you are promoting.
You should review all claims that your products may be effective in protecting against anthrax spores and other contaminants or in any way reducing the risk of anthrax infections. Please notify us in 7 days of any changes made to your website.
Gas Masks and Respirators
According to experts in the field, all gas masks work by filtering air through a filter or cartridge. There is no such thing as a universal filter or cartridge that will work to filter out every possible contaminant. Therefore, you should not claim that a gas mask or respirator is effective against all contaminants.
In safeguarding the health of civilians such as mine workers and firefighters, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) uses extremely high standards to evaluate and certify gas masks for protection from specific contaminants. The Department of Defense (DOD) provides a similar function for the military. You should not claim that your product is "certified" by the government or military, unless you know for a fact that the products have indeed been certified by NIOSH or DOD.
Gas mask filters have a limited shelf life. In addition, a gas mask filter not properly handled in a way not visible to the eye (e.g. has been dropped, gotten wet, has been previously used) may not work. Therefore, you should not claim that your product is effective unless you are sure that it is in good working condition.
Gas masks are only effective if they are used, fitted, and maintained properly by well trained operators. Therefore, you should clearly and conspicuously disclose this information.
Gas masks are not recommended for children, the elderly, or those with breathing problems, like asthma. Therefore, you should clearly and conspicuously disclose this information.
The effectiveness of protective clothing depends on the nature and type of the particular hazard. Different classes of protective gear provide different levels or degrees of protection. Accordingly, you should not misrepresent or exaggerate the degree of protection the gear provides, or what hazards the gear protects against.
We strongly urge that you review all claims that you are making for your product, particularly claims about its effectiveness and protection against specific contaminants. If your claims cannot be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence - the kind of evidence that would be relied upon by those with adequate training and experience in the relevant field - your claims should be revised or removed immediately.
FTC investigators have copied and preserved the pages of your online promotional materials and will be revisiting your website soon.
Please notify us via electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org within 7 business days of the specific actions you have taken to address the agency's concerns.