The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert by Dyson for claiming that indoor air pollution is more harmful than outdoor air pollution.
In the advert, a shot of a car emitting green fumes out of its exhaust is shown. A voiceover asks the audience: “What could be worse than air pollution outdoors?”
It then goes on to claim that air pollution indoors can be up to five times worse showing a kitchen with multiple sources of indoor air pollution highlighted in green and purple smoke.
A shot of the Dyson app then shows the air quality in the home as “Poor” finally cutting away to a shot of Dyson’s own indoor air purifier sucking up the gas.
Finally the voice-over states, “But Dyson’s Purifier Heater uses a HEPA filter to capture particles and activated carbon to capture gases while warming or cooling you.”
The ad received three complaints who argued that the advert exaggerated the claims made by Dyson over the health risks of indoor air pollution and asked them whether the claims could be substantiated.
In response Dyson said that the ad contained no mention of any health risks and that instead the ad’s purpose was to raise public awareness concerning indoor air pollution.
The company said its claims were substantiated by a paper from the European Respiratory Journal that stated concentrations of some air pollutants were two to five times higher indoors than outdoors.
In relation to Dyson’s mention of the “build-up of microscopic particles” it provided a report from the US research institute SRI International that showed common household pollutants such as plant spores, tobacco smoke, dust and black carbon could build up in the home.
Finally it provided a report from the Royal College of Physicians which stated that enhanced building regulations could actually be making the build-up of indoor particles worse “by creating homes with tighter ventilation”.
Clearcast, the NGO that pre-approves all advertising said that it had approved the advert because Dyson had claimed that it could remove certain gasses and particles from the air in the same way that water filters claim to remove impurities without then suggesting any health benefits.
Despite this the ASA upheld the complaint stating that because Dyson had used similar colouring between the car exhaust and the indoor pollution and had then used the word “worse” in its wording it had suggested that there was a direct comparison between the two.
It also stated that while the reports Dyson sent over did rightly highlight indoor air pollution as both measurable and of concern to public health, it did not prove that indoor air pollution is more damaging than outdoor air pollution.
In a statement to HuffPost UK, a Dyson spokesperson said:
“Indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor. We respect the ASA’s decision and will refine our advert but will continue to raise awareness of the problem and design machines with the issue in mind.”