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Company's Water Filter Claims Unfounded

Release Date: 5/11/1998
Contact Information: Lyn Frandsen
(206) 553-4768 or (800) 424-4372

May 11, 1998 - - - - - - - - - - - 98-22

An Oregon man and woman have agreed to settle a U.S. Department of Justice complaint alleging they sold water filters and water purification devices by falsely claiming the products made untreated water safe to drink. A significant portion of their sales were to campers, hikers and other people engaged in outdoor recreation.
By having signed the settlement, Bruce Spangrud and Barbara Calise, both of Beaverton, are barred from manufacturing, selling or promoting any water filtering or purification device not registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA registration requirement was explained by Lyn Frandsen, leader of the pesticide enforcement team at EPA's Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle.

"Because they contain pesticides, water filters and purifiers must be shown by laboratory tests that they do what they are supposed to do, and that they are safe to use," Frandsen declared. "Unless such a showing is made, EPA will not register such products, and -- without an EPA registration -- the product cannot be sold.

"The products distributed by Mr. Spangrud and Ms. Calise and their affiliated companies were not registered. EPA had seen no evidence to support the claims being made by the defendants."

Frandsen said the filters and purifiers sold by Spangrud and Calise contained silver or iodine, which the law regards as pesticidal agents when used in such products. Spangrud and Calise claimed the filters and purifiers disinfected contaminated drinking water.

The water filters and purifiers came in straws, canteens and water bottles, and were sold by the defendants under the "Accufilter" tradename. According to the Department of Justice, the defendants sold an estimated $2.8 million worth of drinking water filters and purifiers in 1993 and 1994 alone. They were advertised for use in outdoor sports, camping and travel. They included:
  • The Accufilter 5 purifier straw, canteen and sports bottle containing activated carbon and iodine, said by the defendants to be capable of purifying up to 40 gallons of water contaminated by bacteria, protozoa, viruses and parasites, making the water "safe" to drink.
  • The Accufilter 3 filter straws containing activated carbon and silver, said to be capable of filtering 50 gallons of water, removing the taste of chlorine, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, organic poisons and other particles that cause that discolor the water or cause it to taste or smell bad. The filter was advertised as making water "clean" to drink.
According to the complaint against Spangrud and Calise, the defendants' claims for the Accufilter 3 and Accufilter 5 products were false and misleading.

Activated carbon in the purifiers may reduce -- but will not eliminate -- herbicides, pesticides, metals and chlorine. Moreover, activated carbon with silver in the filters will not eliminate all bacteria in water and cannot remove protozoa and viruses.

The complaint charged the defendants with violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the law requiring registration with EPA, and with violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

By terms of the settlement, Spangrud and Calise will pay a $20,000 civil penalty in addition to the injunctions against them.

The injunctions apply to Spangrud, Calise and several business firms under their control --- Accuventure Inc., Accufilter International Inc., Outdoor Dynamics Inc., World Sector Inc and B&B Innovative Products. All the firms were listed as defendants when the complaint was filed in April 1996.

In signing the settlement, the defendants neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the Department of Justice complaint.