Newark school district to ‘disconnect’ $ 360,000 air cleaners
NEWARK – More than 500 air handlers will be disconnected from Newark classrooms after the school district learns that a class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that the company that makes the devices has misrepresented how they protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
The costume also claimed that the devices could actually make the air worse.
North Carolina-based ‘Bipolar Needle Ionization Devices’ from Global Plasma Solutions were initially approved for purchase by the Newark Unified School District board in November to help eliminate potential transmission of coronavirus in classrooms and provide “peace of mind” to students. and staff, officials said.
In all, Superintendent Mark Triplett said at a board meeting in April that the district had purchased 556 devices and installed them for a total of $ 359,945.
“They are considered the best at fighting and killing the virus,” Triplett said in April of the devices, as the district sought to reassure staff, students and parents that the air in the classrooms would be safe for a return to school.
The school district was sold largely on the devices by a presentation by a vendor of machines touting their effectiveness in killing the virus that causes COVID-19.
However, the lawsuit claims the manufacturer “overestimates” its product’s ability to do so, and “deceptively” represents testing its own product as independent, and “goes after people desperate to clean the air.” , all in an effort to enrich itself.
Global Plasma Solutions’ products “make the air worse for people” because they “reduce some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but actually increase the concentration of other VOCs,” says the lawsuit, filed May 7.
Triplett emailed the entire district on Tuesday, saying the district had “been made aware” of a proposed class action lawsuit filed against Global Plasma Solutions in Delaware federal court earlier this month.
Although Triplett noted that the devices met various safety standards reviewed by government agencies and a heating and air conditioning trade association, he said, “With great caution, Newark Unified has decided to disconnect all of these devices from our HVAC units until further notice. “
The district had also purchased and installed air purifiers with HEPA filters for “every classroom and school office space before the return to in-person learning on April 29,” Triplett said in the letter.
“As always, the health and safety of our students and staff remains our top priority, and we will continue to monitor this situation as it evolves,” he said.
Triplett did not respond to an interview request for this news article.
In an emailed statement to this news agency on Thursday, a spokesperson for Global Plasma Solutions said in part: “GPS technology works, is safe and can play an important role in making complete purification systems and more efficient air filtration. ”
The company said that “the lawsuit is baseless and based on flawed research, and we will file a motion to dismiss the case in the coming days.”
The company said it contacted Newark Unified to “share additional data and answer any questions.” We are also expanding an offering to perform on-site testing to verify the safety of this technology and the additional benefits and confidence that bipolar ionization offers Newark schools. “
In November 2020, the Newark Unified School District Board of Directors heard a presentation from Nicole Seiderman of San Jose-based Norman S. Wright Corporation, touting the technological advancements of Global Plasma Solutions.
Seiderman noted that the manufacturer had partnerships with the aviation industry that allowed them to test their devices for the virus.
“He revealed that COVID-19 was killed within 30 minutes at a death rate of 99.4 percent. So they tested their ionization product directly on our biggest concern today, ”Seiderman said.
But that same claim was one of many claimed in the lawsuit as misleading or false, citing information from Boeing which performed “limited testing” of the product and “was unable to replicate supplier results.” .
The plane’s manufacturer wrote that “the ionization of the air did not show significant disinfection efficiency,” the lawsuit said.
Seiderman also said that “Global Plasma Solutions” had “figured out how to do ionization without harmful byproducts,” another claim disputed by the lawsuit.
The district said at the time that the devices would be paid for from the CARES Act funds received by the district.
Staff recommended the purchase after conducting “collaborative research” with consultants, including McCracken Woodman, based in Lafayette, RGMK, based in Concord, “and in consultation with other districts and industry representatives. , According to staff reports.
In a Kaiser Health News article in early May, Marwa Zaatari – a member of the ASHRAE epidemic working group, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers – questioned the effectiveness of the devices. .
“It’s a high cost for nothing,” Zaatari said in the article. Global Plasma Solutions sued her and another air quality consultant for criticizing their devices, according to Kaiser Health News.
The company noted that its products met ASHRAE “zero ozone” certification standards, which Triplett had also noted in previous presentations.
“It’s really amazing technology that has been developed,” Triplett said at the November board meeting when introducing the idea of buying the devices to the board.
“I think it could really give a lot of peace of mind to our staff, students and families with the goal of actually improving air quality,” said Triplett.
“I will say the cost is not insignificant,” said Triplett, “but we really feel like it really is money well spent because it is about the safety and health of our people. students and our staff. “