News Analysis

Federal Trade Commission Sues Maker of Ozone Generator

Through highly effective network marketing, Alpine Industries has created an army of poorly informed distributors, some of whom show up at various green building shows around the country displaying their so-called air-purification machines. These machines reputedly remove indoor pollutants by generating ions and ozone. In 1995 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled a dispute with William Converse, president of Alpine, with a consent decree preventing the company from making its claims of air-cleaning and health effects without providing adequate scientific documentation of those benefits. On January 5, 1998, the FTC filed suit against Converse and Alpine seeking punitive damages for failure to comply with the prior agreement. If the suit is successful, the punitive damages might be sufficient to finally put Converse out of business.

Sidestepping the obvious question of why anyone would intentionally generate a gas that is a known irritant at very low concentrations, the company claims that the ozone reacts with hazardous chemicals in the air, converting them to harmless CO2 and water molecules. Research by a wide range of scientists indicates otherwise. While ozone does react with many VOCs, it often converts them into chemicals that are significantly more harmful than the originals.

Converse previously owned a company called Living Air Corporation, based in Minnesota. Under legal pressure from the State of Minnesota, he relocated to Tennessee to found Alpine Industries. The company claims to have thousands of satisfied users of their equipment, with the many distributors among them. It is possible that these users are reacting favorably to the negative ions generated by the machine, while keeping the ozone levels low enough to avoid noticeable problems.

Published February 1, 1998

(1998, February 1). Federal Trade Commission Sues Maker of Ozone Generator. Retrieved from