Clorox responds to Xenex's UV robot advertising claims

Xenex Disinfection Services has been running ads claiming that its UV disinfection robots, which use xenon gas, contain "no toxic mercury" and that they are "faster than competing mercury devices," which seems to be a claim directed at Clorox Healthcare's Optimum-UV System that uses mercury bulbs.

Earlier this year, Clorox challenged certain claims Xenex was making in its advertisements. After an inquiry to Xenex from the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division, Xenex stopped using certain statements in its advertisements.

However, the company continues to use statements about mercury UV robots. Though Xenex CEO Morris Miller maintains that "both statements are accurate" and the company has filed a declaratory judgment action against Clorox so it can continue to make such claims, Clorox takes issue with the ads.

"Despite the NAD decision, Xenex is not honoring its commitment to discontinue all of its express and implied claims and is instead aggressively pursuing several of them," a statement from Clorox reads. "The claims about UV systems, that Clorox Healthcare maintains Xenex has not substantiated, are related to the safety, speed and efficacy of UV systems with mercury lamps. The Clorox Healthcare Optimum-UV System is safe when used as directed."

According to Keri Lestage, PhD, a technology solutions group manager with Clorox Healthcare, the level of mercury found in its UV disinfection devices is the same level found in florescent lamps found in office buildings around the world. She says the device passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure test, which is designed to ensure the level of mercury is safe. The Optimum-UV System's lamps have a mercury level that is a full order of magnitude below the limits set by the test.

"There is no safety issue with our lamps," she says.

She also disputes the speed claim, pointing out that the recommended run times of both the Optimum-UV System from Clorox and the "Germ-Zapping" pulsed xenon devices from Xenex are the same. Dr. Lestage also notes that while speed is an important consideration, run time alone does not tell the full story. She adds that "time, distance and pathogen kill all need to be considered when comparing devices."

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