FTC Charges Connecticut Firm with False Claims on Water Distiller

Company Agrees to Change Ads

FTC News Release
June l5, l987

The Federal Trade Commission today charged a Connecticut company with using deceptive advertising for its water distillers. The firm agreed not to misrepresent the ability of its devices to provide pure water, under a consent agreement announced today.

The company, New Medical Techniques Inc. (NMT) of Mystic, Conn., manufactures and distributes countertop water distillers. In a complaint filed with the consent agreement, the FTC said the water distillers are designed to remove contaminants from water by boiling and recondensing the water.

The complaint said NMT claimed, in its promotional literature, that its water distillers removed all chemicals and impurities from tap water and provided a user with absolutely pure and safe water. The firm also claimed its distillers were tested and endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service and Duke University Medical Center.

The FTC's complaint alleged that those claims were false and unsubstantiated because NMT's distillers failed to remove potentially carcinogenic volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). VOCs are found in industrial and pesticide wastes, which can enter water supplies. Some VOCs include benzene, methylene chloride, and chloroform.

In addition, the Commission's complaint charged that neither Duke University Medical Center nor the US Public Health Service had tested or endorsed NMT's distillers.

The order would prohibit NMT from making any false or deceptive claims about the ability of any water purification device to remove chemicals or other contaminants from water or to protect users from hazards caused by such contaminants. The order also requires that NMT refrain from falsely representing that such devices are approved or endorsed by any person or organization.

The order would require NMT to possess scientific data before making any claims that its water purification devices will provide absolutely pure water, protect users from particular health hazards, or remove contaminants or chemicals from water.

The order also contains a disclosure requirement that applies in most instances when the company claims generally in its advertising that its water purification devices will remove chemical contaminants. The disclosure must say that the device is not designed to remove potentially hazardous VOCs. The disclosure requirement does not apply when the company only mentions specific chemicals that the device will, in fact, remove.

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This page was posted on August 27, 2006.

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