CleanAir EXP, the company behind a commercial air purification system that was touted as a COVID-19 killer by leaders of Dream City Church in Arizona where President Donald Trump held a packed rally on Tuesday, said their system does not kill the deadly virus.
“We understand there is recent confusion around the claims made by one of our customers around our laboratory testing. We’re at the forefront of air and surface purification testing and technology — we tested with a third-party Certified Biosafety Laboratory on the best coronavirus surrogates available (Coronavirus 229E and Cystovirus Phi6) and found our patented technology leads to a 99.9% elimination of airborne coronavirus surrogates,” said Tim Bender, CEO of CleanAir EXP, in a statement to The Christian Post.
“We do not, however, eliminate COVID-19 at this time. Our coronavirus surrogate testing results are significant for the future of clean air. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the CDC for additional laboratory testing and support the CDC’s guidelines on hygiene habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The controversy over the CleanAir EXP technology, which was developed by members of Dream City Church, erupted Sunday after Senior Pastor Luke Barnett and Chief Operations Officer Brendon Zastrow posted a video in which they claimed the air purification system kills 99.9 percent of the new coronavirus.
"We've installed Clean Air EXP," Zastrow said. "We have a local Arizona company. It was a technology developed by some members of our church. And we've installed these units. And it kills 99% of COVID within 10 minutes."
The technology, explained the church leaders, kills COVID-19 by “ionization.”
The claim made by the church leaders came just two months after a Business Insider report in April suggested bipolar ionization could help control the spread of the new coronavirus.
The process takes oxygen molecules from the air and converts them into charged atoms that then cluster around microparticles, surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens, and viruses, the report said. The charged atoms also attach to expelled breath droplets and dust particles that can transport viruses, enlarging them so they're more easily caught in filters.
Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine who was quoted in the report, told the Phoenix New Times that ionization couldn’t offer absolute protection from COVID-19.
"The short answer to your question is NO, you will ABSOLUTELY NOT BE SAFE AND PROTECTED. When you are dealing with hundreds or thousands of people in an AUDITORIUM, some of whom will carry the virus you WILL NOT BE absolutely PROTECTED," Tierno stressed.
He urged the use of masks, temperature checks and practicing social distancing for people concerned about contracting the virus.
"BPI will help over time to reduce numbers of virus BUT NOT ABSOLUTELY eradicate it without doing the aforementioned," he told the publication. "I would advise you not to present FALSE hope to attendees by spreading false statements."
In a statement on Facebook Tuesday, Dream City Church shared Bender’s comments and noted that they mistakenly used COVID to reference coronaviruses in general when they should have made a distinction.
“On Sunday we made a post for our congregation to inform them we are doing everything we can to foster the cleanest, safest environment as we resume church services. We have heard Coronavirus and COVID used interchangeably. Our statement regarding the CleanAir EXP units used the word COVID when we should have said Coronavirus or COVID surrogates. We hope to alleviate any confusion we may have caused."