The website for Fischer Future Heat UK www.fischerfutureheat.com, for radiators, seen in September 2019 included a page titled “How night storage heaters could be affecting your health”. Under the heading “Electro-magnetic contamination” text included “the electricity grid will ‘emit much higher magnetic fields, especially when there are extreme low or high temperatures,’ because of the amount of power it is drawing. When the electricity grid draws power, it generates low frequency electromagnetic fields. Low frequency radiation, such as these electromagnetic fields, have been linked to miscarriages, leukaemia, breast cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, depression and many more health issues”. The page featured a quote from “Samuel Milham, MD, MPH Medical epidemiologist” that stated “New research is suggesting that nearly all the human plagues which emerged in the twentieth century, like common acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children, female breast cancer, malignant melanoma and asthma, can be tied to some facet of our use of electricity”. Below that, text included “You could potentially be putting yourself at risk by exposing yourself to these harmful low frequency electromagnetic waves” and “By installing low input, Fischer elektrostore™ radiators, you can significantly reduce your energy input, in turn reducing your exposure to this low frequency radiation”.
The complainant challenged whether the claims that night storage heaters emitted low frequency radiation that caused or exacerbated conditions including poor health, miscarriages, leukaemia, breast cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, depression, melanoma and asthma were misleading and could be substantiated.
Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd said that the web page included a link to a blog that was the source for the information contained on it. They stated that they did not make those claims themselves but republished information available in the public domain and that the blog was written by a person that they stated was a qualified expert. Fischer Future Heat provided a link to the page, which appeared on a website that stated that it contained information about electromagnetic radiation and its relationship with humans. Fischer Future Heat UK said that it would remove the blog post if necessary.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claims “How night storage heaters could be affecting your health”, followed by the claims that electromagnetic fields were linked to the health conditions referred to in the ad, that there were proven links between night storage heaters and the development and exacerbation of those conditions. We further considered that consumers would understand the claim “By installing low input, Fischer elektrostore™ radiators, you can significantly reduce your energy input, in turn reducing your exposure to this low frequency radiation”, to mean that consumers who purchased a heater with reduced energy input would reduce their exposure to those harmful conditions. We therefore required Fischer Future Heat to provide evidence which substantiated the claims including the claims that appeared as quotes.
The website provided by Fischer Future Heat contained claims about the effects of electromagnetic radiation, but did not include any studies or evidence. Fischer Future Heat were required to provide evidence to support their claims; they did not provide any of the evidence that we considered would adequately support the claims, for example, peer reviewed scientific studies. Because Fischer Future Heat had not provided adequate evidence to substantiate their claims, we therefore concluded that the claims in the ad were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd not to claim or imply that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by consumer goods could cause or exacerbate any medical conditions, or to state or imply that purchasing their own products could reduce the risk of those conditions. We further told Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd to ensure that they had adequate substantiation to support claims, including in quotations, in their marketing materials.