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Ionizer Company Sues Indoor Air Quality Expert

Indoor Air Quality Expert Marwa Zaatari And Her Family

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, indoor air quality has become a subject of great concern.  IAQ and infectious disease scientists discovered early on that COVID is airborne.  That means removing virus-laden particles from the air or deactivating the viruses on particles can prevent disease and save lives.  But as with everything, the devil’s in the details.

Air-cleaning methods

Some methods for dealing with contaminated air work better than others.  Some products are outright scams.  Some may or may not provide a benefit.  Others have been proven to work.  Filtration, ventilation with outdoor air, and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation are methods that work.  If you combine them with source control, airtightness, and moisture control, you’ll have a solid, layered approach to indoor air quality.

One of the great things about the pandemic is that so many indoor air quality experts were very public in sharing their knowledge.  Dr. Marwa Zaatari is one of those experts.  I interviewed her for my article on electronic air cleaners, and she really knows her stuff.  She’s publicized a lot of the research on electronic air cleaners that are in the iffy category.

Goliath sues David

Unfortunately, doing so has gotten her in legal trouble with a large company that sells ionizers, one of those electronic air cleaners that I’ve said is best to avoid.  Global Plasma Solutions (GPS) is suing her for $180 million.  Why?  Because she’s been pointing out that independent researchers have found results that don’t support GPS’s claims.

This is intimidation, pure and simple.  It seems the company would rather keep the results of independent research out of the public eye as much as possible.  In addition to suing Dr. Zaatari for $180 million, GPS is also suing Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of peer-reviewed scientific research.

Two years ago, Dr. Zaatari was doing her thing and helping a lot of people understand indoor air quality and the effectiveness of different methods to achieve it.  Over the last year, she’s gotten very quiet after GPS filed the lawsuit against her.

Help Marwa Zaatari fight the lawsuit

When large corporations sue individuals for obscene amounts of money, they often do so with impunity.  They don’t need to win in court to achieve their objectives.  By forcing someone with limited resources to fight a large corporation, they often win just by getting the individual to back down.

In this case, Dr. Zaatari is not yielding.  And you can help.  She has set up a GoFundMe page to fight this lawsuit.  As I write this, 697 people have donated over $130,000.  That’s great!  But her goal is $400,000.  It takes a lot of money to fight off a large corporation with deep pockets.  Please read her story on the GoFundMe page.  Read the supporting documents and links.  And then donate to her cause if you can.

Intimidation isn’t the answer

I don’t normally post this kind of appeal in the Energy Vanguard Blog, but this is important.  Large corporations have the means to stifle discussion and publicity of information they deem unfavorable to their products.  (I’ve had my own experience with this.)  They can intimidate.  They can shut people up.  They also can mess with people’s lives.  As Zaatari wrote on her GoFundMe page, “These past few years have taken a considerable toll on my emotional well-being and my family’s.”

If you do an online search for “Global Plasma Solutions lawsuit,” you’ll find that most of the results are related to lawsuits against GPS.  If their products really were so great, would they be facing both individual and class action lawsuits?  And what does it say about your product when you sue an indoor air quality expert?

 

 

Allison A. Bailes III, PhD is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the founder of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, Georgia. He has a doctorate in physics and writes the Energy Vanguard Blog. He also has a book on building science coming out in the fall of 2022. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.

 

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Thanks for bringing this to wider attention. She has the spirit and will to prevail and I am hoping she does. That sweet govt. covid money brought out all the disreputable companies taking advantage of a stressful situation in our schools. Heres hoping they lose and moreover have to pay damages for their non functional “solution”

  2. I certainly feel for her. In our K-12 practice we were often asked about ionization as a method of air purification…I had a folder of peer reviewed papers and the manufacturer’s own “test” results to send on to school superintendents and I would emphasize that such technology as implemented in commercial HVAC was “snake oil” and akin to elephant repellent. Very tricky marketing as they used HVAC contractors to carry the message to school districts…cheap enough to use COVID money to pay for it, but not so much they had to go to the voters or actual professionals. (If you looked at some of the manufacturer’s testing they were using test “rooms” the fraction of the size of any occupiable room)

  3. Thank you, Allison, for bringing this into daylight.

    I love the language on their website under products “_Targets_ Particles”, “_Reduces_ Certain Viruses & Bacteria”, “_Tackles_ Odors”. Those are action verbs all right.

    The search results of “global plasma solutions lawsuit” you suggest are priceless.

  4. Did the plaintiff sue her entire family?
    If not, why post a photo of her with her children and partner? That feels strongly inappropriate. Did you get Dr. Zaatari’s permission to use this photo, or is there a more appropriate photo of her to use?

    1. Dee: If you look at the bottom of the article or click the link to the GoFundMe page, you’ll see that photo is the one she used for her fundraiser. Yes, I got permission from Dr. Zaatari to use the photo.

      1. I have enjoyed the fact that I have not been sick a single day over the past 13 years I have had NPBI in my home, office and truck – not one single day. You people are way, way, way off base, underinformed and searching for a problem which does not exists – searching for a cause. NPBI is the best thing that has come along since the Polio vaccine in my estimation and GPS should be awarded the Nobel Prize – not kidding. NPBI is a replication and simple acceleration of nature’s natural cleansing process with nothing else added. Thus, If you have an issue with NPBI you have an issue with nature. Simple as that. There is nothing else on this planet that compares.

  5. Thanks for bringing this to light. Hopefully she doesn’t just defend, but brings a countersuit for millions… poetic justice to have them fund more of her research.

  6. Allison inspires curiosity, and today I called our Gwinnett County Schools (#13 largest school district in the country, as of 2016), their Building Maintenance department in particular. I asked if any school buildings in the district have ionization equipment in their HVAC systems. I did not specifically say “needlepoint bipolar ionization”, just “ionization”. The answer I got was a resounding yes, in all school buildings, and I was told that since 2008 it’s been required by Mechanical code.

    What’s up? Am I confused? I am not that familiar with Mechanical code for commercial, or educational buildings, but is this information correct? Are we talking about different ionization methods? (with which I am also very unfamiliar)

    **********
    Towards the end of the phone conversation I was asked if I was a member of the media, to which of course I said “no”, then I was asked if I was pro or against ionization, to which I reacted that I did not understand the relevance. At the end, I was told that any future related questions will be handled by their media relations. It was a bizarre conversation.

    1. In Cobb County schools, millions were spent not only on overhead UV classroom lights (which were rather quickly removed over obvious concerns about efficacy and safety), but also aqueous ozone hand washing stations. I’m wouldn’t be surprised if they had looked into bipolar ionization too.

    1. In Minnesota we have a requirement for classrooms to have sound level compliant with ANSI S60 and for MERV 13 filters. These regulations are in the education department rules and regulations for new construction and not in the mechanical Code per se. (The MERV 13 and S60 rules made it difficult to install Classroom unit ventilator, so we don’t seem them anymore, they were problematical in our Zone 6 & 7 climates anyway!) Each state is a little different, but I have never heard of Bi-polar, needle point or any other type of ionization being required in any jurisdiction. (never saw this in WI rules either). The MERV 13 rules unintentionally took care of issues of virus propagation through the HVAC system by capturing virus sized particles before sending through the systems, leaving just in room transmission to deal with. (If you look at the half life of ions.. it’s hard for them to “live” long enough to do any good if you are inserting them at the central HVAC equipmnet.

  7. If ionization technology was as effective as the proponents who sell it claim, why do they adamantly refuse to coordinate with industry experts to develop an industry driven testing method to which most everyone can agree has validity? Ionization has been around for decades, yet it is so mysterious, no standard test can quantify its performance? I understand how those who weren’t educated in contamination control were enticed for a cost-effective, readily available solution; however, there were plenty of sales folks in the industry, some reputable, who turned a blind eye to make a buck as well…funny how that aspect is somewhat overlooked.

  8. I first encountered GPS a few years back, before COVID, when an iffy mechanical sub was proposing needlepoint BPI in lieu of sufficient outside air. The IAQ “calculation” provided indicated the BPI would reduce all sorts of indoor contaminants below baseline levels. The only thing they did not claim would be reduced was CO2 (of course). Their calculation asserted that a CO2 level of 5000 PPM was “acceptable” because it is the exposure limit (and also cited some naval standard for SUBMARINES).

    I fought hard against it and the engineer who was proposing it. He even said that he had used it to reduce OA in dozens of schools with no issues…the poor kids!

    After that, I was always extremely suspicious of the claims. It seemed very quickly after that, most equipment suppliers in my area began representing an ionization company. Until ASHRAE publishes official guidance indicating the widespread use/adoption of the tech is warranted, I am staying away.

  9. I don’t know the technology of GPS and what the third party reports say about it. But I (and others in my family) am massively mold sensitive and we use another brand with multiple forms of ionization. When we are stuck temporarily in moldy spaces (like hotel rooms or other people’s houses), I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they significantly reduce our symptoms.

  10. Small spaces with in-room ionization is a totally different thing than we are talking about with this thread. That being said, some residential type units can produce excessive ionized particles that can be hazardous to the delicate tissues of the nose, throat, and lungs.

    1. The article isn’t really specific. Is it specifically putting them in air ducts that you find to be questionable? Or is it advocating the use of it as a single solution solve your indoor air quality issues, instead of recognizing the many other things you should be doing?

      1. What I find objectionable is that the removal of contamination using this technology has not been scientifically tested in real world commercial sized (i.e. full scale) conditions. Most importantly, the various manufacturers and distributors that sell this sort of product has marketed the product in such a way to capture funding from organizations that could be used for implement equipment or operational changes that are demonstrated to reduce contamination in occupied spaces.

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