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Potentially False COVID-19 Claims Land Needlepoint Bi-Polar Ionization Device Manufacturer in Court

Needlepoint Bi-Polar Ionization (NBPI) is a process used to help reduce particulates (pollutants, allergens, etc.) found in indoor air. Last year it became a ‘previously unheralded weapon’ in the fight to remove SARS-CoV-2 bioaerosols from the air we breathe in buildings. But the questions some had months ago about COVID killing claims are now part of a Delaware class action lawsuit. And according to the filings, the process may even make indoor air worse.

Ionization appears to be joining the list of other bioaerosol virus and microbial management boondoggles. Failed fixes for a complex problem that were never tested in “live” environments. Examples include UVC lights installed in schools that came on while kids were in class and multimillion dollar plexiglass purchases that made classrooms look like prisons. Note the similarities.

This is a screen grab from a video shot by a California teacher of her classroom after installation of plexiglass dividers. Click on image to see video.
Prison phone rooms that look exactly like classrooms after being fitted with plexiglass dividers for COVID-19
This is a the visitation area inside the Kingston prison. 

Here is a how BPNI is supposed to work.

But is it actually effective against pathogens (viruses, bacteria, spores that make us sick)? This headline from Real Clear Science ran in January, 2021: 

Schools Are Spending Millions on Ionization Technology to Fight the Coronavirus. There’s No Good Evidence It Works.  

“The company touts that their products inactivated 84.2% of coronavirus particles after 10 minutes; 92.6% after 15 minutes; 99.4% after 30 minutes.”  

But in an interview with NBC News, William Bahnfleth, a professor of architectural engineering at Penn State University, was skeptical of ionization filtration. 

“Much of the proof of their performance is in the form of laboratory studies commissioned by manufacturers that are often performed under conditions that are not representative of actual application conditions.” 

Side note: According to the suit filed some of the “testing” supporting the manufacturer’s claims was conducted in a 1 ft3 box. Perhaps not representative of a real-world environment: Like a school.

Well, as it turns out Professor Bahnfleth appears to have been spot on. If we look at the ‘actual application conditions’ another glaring problem with the concept of NBPI being efficacious for pathogens (Def. a specific causative agent, such as a bacterium or virus, of disease) bubbles up.


Image of simulation of air and bioaerosolized pathogens in a classroom

The primary point of transmission for aerosolized pathogens is where people gather in a room indoors. See the New York Times classroom airflow dynamics presentation by clicking on the image above.

If you were to name a movie after the claim that in-duct bipolar ionization killed COVID-19 it could be called “The Incredible Journey II”. 

Here is what happens in the real-world. In this case, a classroom:

  1. Bobby coughs – Bioaerosols are released into the air
  2. Larger clusters of virus or bacteria cells, spores, and molecules will fall from the air, and smaller ones will float in and around the room for up to two hours
  3. “In theory”, the smaller clusters or individual pathogens will waft upwards and be drawn into the plenum (a typically dusty space above a ceiling where cold air returns pull from) or the cold air returns if ducted into the room
  4. Then, it is assumed that the virus cells are whisked through all the return ductwork (potentially hundreds of feet) into an AHU (Air Handling Unit)
  5. In the AHU it is pulled through a pre-filter, then a secondary high-efficiency filter (sometime HEPA – High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing), past the heating and cooling units, through a massive blower (fan) that pushes air through the HVAC systems at about +4,000 fpm.
  6. After that blower, NPBI devices are installed inside duct work, where the air they are tasked with treating is moving the fastest.

Regardless of the questions about the efficacy of NBPI, the physical logistics involved with moving aerolized pathogens through HVAC duct work to then destroy them on the opposite end of that system raises even more questions about the real impact on controlling infectious viruses, bacteria, and spores with ionization. 

Is this strategy even plausible?

This is also why all of our solutions for air disinfection are designed to be deployed at the source of origin of transmission. If a pathogen is transmitted from one student to another it happens in the classroom. It does not happen after a pathogen cluster makes ‘the incredible journey’ from Bobby’s lungs, into and through a building’s dust covered duct work matrix and HVAC components, and out of a vent on the other side of the school where it infects the captain of the wrestling team before the state meet.

Problems like the bioaerosol logistics issue may be why the headlines keep on coming.  


COVID: Newark school district to ‘disconnect’ $360,000 air cleaning devices following lawsuit


Lawsuit claims manufacturer of ionization devices ‘preys on people’

“They are considered the top in terms of addressing and killing the virus,” Triplett [Newark School District Superintendent] said in April about the devices, as the district sought to reassure staff, students, and parents the air in classrooms would be safe for a return to school.

The school district was sold on the devices in large part by a presentation from a vendor of the machines touting their effectiveness in killing the virus that causes COVID-19.

As a result of the class action filing, and the revelation that BPNI ‘trades’ VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) an additional problem has arisen. While the technology is effective at reducing some VOCs (and particulates, pollutants, and spores) it actually produces other VOCs (e.g. acetone, ethanol, and toluene).

Falsely Advertised?: Class Action Claims Global Plasma Solutions’ Air Cleaning Products ‘Make the Air Worse’

(Click title to see full article – Includes a link to the Delaware Court Filing)

By Erin Shaak 

According to the 111-page lawsuit out of Delaware federal court, the defendant’s products actually “make the air worse for people” by producing harmful byproducts. Further, the company’s claims that its products can kill the COVID-19 virus are allegedly based on “unvalidated” testing methods that are not representative of real-world conditions.

In all, the case claims Global Plasma Solutions (GPS) has placed “profits over people” by engaging in “false, deceptive, and misleading” advertising aimed at concealing from the public that the products are, in reality, “incapable of performing as marketed.”

Also from the article …

“In other words,” the complaint states, “Defendant’s GPS-FC48-AC device does not clean the air and produce a healthy environment. Rather, it trades one group of harmful chemicals for another group of harmful chemicals.”

Per the case filed, acetone, ethanol and toluene are toxic substances that can cause health issues ranging from nose, throat, lung and eye irritation to fertility issues, harm to unborn children, and damage to the brain, muscles, heart, liver and kidneys.

According to a Kaiser Health News article by Christina Jewett and Lauren Weber  published this week, Boeing had conducted tests on NBPI for use in aircraft. Those studies were cited in the class action filing. (Click image to see full article.)

Boeing noted in its conclusion that “air ionization has not shown significant disinfection effectiveness.” 


This excerpt from Ross Pomeroy’s article in Real Clear Science speaks directly to the scope of the problem:

Near identical stories are playing out in public school districts across the United States – with total expenditures in the tens of millions of dollars, perhaps more –  as officials search for solutions to protect classrooms from the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, in this case, school administrators may have fallen for snake oil, and taxpayers are footing the bill.

Challenges like the ones GPS is facing now are exactly why every solution proposed must be supported by clinical data for the given application, and not a small test in a controlled lab environment. As a healthcare company, we are held to a higher standard when presenting solutions to clinicians. The same standards need to be applied when making decisions about which infection control and prevention solutions are ultimately deployed in schools, or any building for that matter. This especially applies to the complex subjects of air disinfection and indoor air quality. The NanoStrike® air disinfection technology that we use is FDA cleared, with dozens of papers, use cases, and clinical studies supporting its safety and efficacy in “live” environments.

Please reach out if you are interested in learning more about what is working, and what is not working, and why, based on data from real-world applications.