Finally, Great Data on Air Purifiers in China!

UPDATE, March 2015: Please check out my buyer’s guide to air purifiers; my 2014 review of the science behind air purifiers; my 2015 tests of air purifiers under 1,000 RMB plus my 2014 review of two dozen top air purifier models in China. 

Which is the best air purifier for China? I get asked this question all the time, and my articles discussing my own test results still are the most popular articles on my website (here, here and here). But I’m just one data point and can’t try all the models available. For objective tests, I’ve always been telling people to read the independent , as well as the. But finally we have new data points specific to the machines available here in China. Mentioned in , they report on the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission’s new analysis of 22 air purifier models. They focus on PM2.5 and formaldehyde, arguably the two most serious indoor air pollutants on our health. Quite a few brands didn’t do so well! Anyway, is in Chinese but I’ve Google Translated the table below. How did your model do? I’m happy as my home’s Blueair did great, removing 97-99% of both formaldehyde and PM2.5; I don’t see results for my IQAir here. But there are many others: Panasonic, Daikin, Sharp, Yadu, Honeywell…
air purifier filter tests 1

air purifier test results


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42 thoughts on “Finally, Great Data on Air Purifiers in China!”

  1. Most westerner friends I know choose Blueair or other European brands, but I settled with Sharp. I believe it achieves similar results however the price is more affordable (manufactured locally, perhaps?).

    I am wondering why expats have overwhelming preference towards the European imports – is it because they come with English control panels and manuals, while the rest don’t? Or is it beacuse they are truly superior in terms of performance?

    Obviously the market for air purifiers now are filled with way too many choices, and consumers just want to go with the brands they can trust. It would be very interesting to have a comparison between the Japanese brands and the Western brands.

    1. IQAir and Blueair certainly got here “first” in terms of stores around expat stores now for many years, as well as their heavy direct advertising to expats. So I suppose that’s a major reason for their popularity. But I know many Japanese who prefer their native Daikin brand, which did well in the tests…

    2. IQAir and Blueair certainly got here “first” in terms of stores around expat stores now for many years, as well as their heavy direct advertising to expats. So I suppose that’s a major reason for their popularity. But I know many Japanese who prefer their native Daikin brand, which did well in the tests…

  2. I saw a recent article in THE ECONOMIST citing research by a combined Chinese/Westerner team that concluded the air pollution in northern China shortens lives by about 5 years. I’m curious how this would compare with smoking a pack per day, which, according to your previous calculation should be about 360 times worse (assuming you started in infancy, like the air pollution–this may reduce the 360 number). I arrived at 360 because you said one 24 hour day at AQI 500 was equal to 1/6th of a cigarette. Therefore, 20 cigarettes in a pack is 20 x 6 = 120 times worse than air pollution of 500 AQI. But, if we assume that the average is more of about 170, or 1/3rd of this number, we must multiply this 120 by 3 = 360 (minus the effect of waiting 18 years to start, thus avoiding the period of greatest lung vulnerability). Thoughts?

    1. Whoa, Steve, heavy stuff here. You actually lost me a bit with the numbers! But I think what you’re trying to do is difficult, comparing those numbers and studies. I honestly am not a huge fan of this recent 5.5 years study, but I think it yet again reinforces what everyone already knows — air pollution is bad. As far as years lost from pollution, previous studies had already been hinting around at 3-5 years anyway, so I don’t see any ground breaking news here…

    2. I doubt cigarettes is a linear equation. so I doubt you can simply multiple 20 x 6. Amazingly, to me visiting Beijing now, many men breathe the terrible air AND smoke cigarettes, which has got to be a lethal combination.

  3. Thanks for this article….I am moving my family of 5 to Chengdu in about a month and am concerned about the pollution. I would like to get an air purifier and was wondering if I should try to purchase one here in the states or if I could get one in Chengdu or perhaps even buy one off taobao. I would like to get the Blueair that had the best removal efficiency (the Blueair 503). I found this link on taobao

    what are your thoughts? thanks alot

    1. Sorry my Chinese isn’t great — but I think that link is only for the filter replacements, not the actual unit! Certainly no genuine Blueair 503 would be sold for only 758RMB. They are hundreds of dollars at least…I would stick with the vendor list from their own website. You of course can buy one in America and bring over, but the voltages here are different and you need to buy a converter otherwise you’ll fry the machine. This also invalidates the warranty. Still, many people do this and it’s definitely the cheapest option…

      1. Thanks for the response…the Blueair 503 is around $650 here in the states. How much is it in China?

      2. Sorry, no idea — you need to check their official sites, not Taobao resellers. No matter what, all purifiers are much cheaper in the USA…

      3. The retail price of the BlueAir 503 is currently 6,860 RMB from what I have been quoted. The availability is another matter.

      4. Yes, I’ve heard that many such machines were totally out of stock after the recent air pollution spikes in Shanghai and middle China…

  4. I was shopping for one. Blueair 503 is $6860rmb quoted by a store this past Sun, which is about US$1140 in China. 798rmb is only for the filter.

  5. I just purchased three BlueAir 303 models for our bedrooms. It appears to be a smaller version of the 503. I plan to get a BlueAir 503 for our larger rooms. I have not seen a review of the 303. Is it basically the same as the 303, just with a lower room capacity?

    1. I don’t know much about the 303, sorry. I’m sure their website has data, as well as the usual consumer websites…

  6. Hi doc, I supposed to move to Beijing next March in order to work for a few years. I am desperately in need of some reassurance that my wife and I can come and be able to protect ourselves from the pollution.

    If we use the good masks as well as air purifiers both at home and the office, will we be safe all things being equal? In other words can we severely limit the effects and maintain good health? Is there any vaccine or medication that can help to protect us too?

    1. Wow, you just asked the big question everyone wants to know — “will we be safe”? No one can seriously answer that conclusively, you need to review the evidence and make your own decisions. Yes, the WHO just classified air pollution as a carcinogen but we already knew that — plus as many doctors have commented, the individual risk, while very real, is still “low”.

      And as I said, if you use air purifiers in your home properly you can decrease your total exposure 80% the entire time you live here (in your home). And a properly fitted mask can reduce your exposure 95%. I think those are pretty darn good odds. But again it’s everyone’s decisions.

      As far as vaccines, that would be wonderful but no, there isn’t an anti-pollution vaccine. The rule is always to be super healthy here with the usual drill: tons of healthy fruits and veggies; omega 3 foods; exercise; not smoking; etc etc.

      1. we’re in Beijing right now and it is a constant battle. if you screen the news you know that it’s not just the air but also toxins in the water, pesticides on the fruit and veg (at very high levels), and toxins in different foods, sometimes on purpose (fake eggs !?!) and sometimes not (lead in rice). To deal with this we do the following: we brought an air purifier with us from the states (they are 3-4x more expensive in china) and face masks. The face masks are a bit of a pain to wear but they do make a difference when the air is bad. We eat god knows what in restaurants (and try to stick with better ones with we hope better ingredients) but for ourself we buy only peelable fruit and veg, and food imported from europe or australia. we also brought a water filter with us and filter boiled water for brushing teeth and filter bottled water for drinking. we wear flip flops in the shower and we don’t buy meat from street vendors (but we have tried some other street food like roasted sweet potatoes (peelable!)). It sounds extreme, i imagine, but i think it helps. We’ve all gotten diarrhea at least once, but otherwise we’re doing pretty well.

    2. one more thing, there are a ton of vaccines to get before you leave. talk to your doctor if you haven’t already. some require two shots spread out over a month, so it’s good to get started early. we got japanese encephalitis, hepatitis, flu etc. etc. luckily all covered by our health insurance. we also brough cipro with us, and have used it. i wish i had also brough picardin (mosquito repellent that is safer than DEET). finally, because there is no oversight into what goes into products, we also brought our own soap, contact lens solution, lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, tampax etc. That said, we are having a lovely time. so much to see and people have been so friendly.

  7. Richard,

    an amazing site and a great resource. Thanks!

    I have one quick question for the crowd here – is there a cheap handheld sensor that I can use to measure particulate air-pollution at my work-place (to convince colleagues to close the windows when the external index is too high).

    Would appreciate any recommendations.

    1. Thanks for liking my website! Regarding particle monitors, I just bought one from Amazon USA called Dylos, only ~$150 USD. I haven’t tried it yet! But it seems pretty good, measuring PM0.5 and PM2.5. But it’s not handheld, you need to plug it in. There’s also a Chinese model I saw on Taobao, again I haven’t tried it but maybe someone else can comment:

  8. Hi, thanks for your post! We just bought the Daikin model mentioned in the review, but it has a slight ozone smell if I’m not mistaken. Does the test mention this detail or can you or someone else confirm whether the Daikin really produces Ozone? Then we would want to return it. Thanks!

    1. Sorry, I have no idea. Usually there’s a special button on top that can turn ozone off and on…

  9. I can’t buy blue air for my family because all of the world have sold out. I am very worried about my son’s cough. He has coughed for three mouths and continue to take medicine. All of our parents in his kindergarten’class raised money to buy two air purifiers for those children which are named DAIKIN, but I don’t like that brand. I have reserched many air purifiers and blue air and IQair are better than others. But my husband don’t think air purifier is useful for our health and for our air. I guess he just thinks blue air is too expensive.

    1. Daikin is well regarded in Japan and also did well in this Shanghai test. Too bad about your husband not thinking these machines are useful, he certainly isn’t paying attention to any of the evidence…

      1. I tried to order a Blue Air 503 but the earliest availability is March 2014 and the price is 6860. I just ordered the Daikin ACK70N which is less than half the price of the Blue Air unit. People told me it is quieter than the Daikin MC70KMV2. Then I started reading some bad things about any air cleaning technolgy that does any kind of ionization because it can produce ozone. Do you have any information about whether the Daikin emits ozone?

      2. I haven’t seen any Daikin reviews in English, sorry. Has anyone? And yes, they did very well in testing in Shanghai — as far as ozone, usually that’s just an optional switch on the unit, jus shut it off. Let us know the results! I think both the Daikin brand and also Philips most likely are excellent choices, and cheaper than others — and much more available, in stock.

      3. I bought the Daikin and sold it again right away because the entire apartment started smelling like a copy shop due to the Ozone it emits. You can remove the ionizer unit and keep it running, but this didn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of smell. Also, the Ionizer makes the filter work better because it clumps up particles by negatively charging them, which then helps to catch them in the mechanical filters. If you remove the ionizer, it reduces the effectiveness of the filter. Even BlueAir filters use an ionizer to increase efficiency, and they also produce Ozone (there’s no way around it), but the difference is that their devices are sealed and have something built in that reduces the Ozone inside the device. So, in effect the BlueAirs reduce the relative Ozone levels in a room, while the Daikin seems to increase them quite a bit. Hope that helps.

      4. Yes, I’ve seen the data that the actual ozone levels in a room do NOT go up with Blueair. That’s too bad about Daikin, but I’d much prefer to read pro reviews. Surely there must be online reviews somewhere, in English, maybe from Hong Kong? Or their own website? Most Japanese people love Daikin brand, and I certainly trust Japanese quality in general, so we definitely need to look into this more…readers, please help us, thanks!


        Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this website needs much more attention.
        I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!

      5. Hello Richard,

        I just found an excellent test report from a chinese electronics website. They tested 23 different brands:
        (99 pages!)
        They also opened all 23 air purifiers to check all the filters:

        So far, this is the best report on air purifiers I’ve ever read. You can contact me by email if you need help to read through all these pages in Chinese.


        1. Thanks, I saw that earlier and was discussing on Weibo a month ago. I think my main problem with it was that they didn’t actually test what I really wanted to know: PM0.3 or PM2.5 effectiveness. I saw a bunch about energy efficiency but couldn’t find one graph which mentioned this #1 issue. Perhaps you can find the exact page with this crucial info? Or a graph of it?

      6. Good info, but I think it’s dangerous to rely on measurements of PM2.5, which tend to hide the underlying counts of the very small particles, at PM0.3 and below.

        After reading around, and Googling, as far as I can tell, the only machine that will filter these is the IQAir, which has two filters:
        – “pre”-filter, which is grade H8, which seems to match the filter quality of my panasonic f-pdf35c (which I’ve measured as filtering about 50% of pm0.3 particles)
        – the actual ‘hepa’ filter, which is grade h12/h13, which takes care of these very small particles

        I’d love to hear of an alternative to this, which doesnt involve my shelling out 8000-9000rmb, twice (once for home, once for office… 🙁 ), so if anyone knows of any good pm0.3 data on other, cheaper, models, which shows they’re effective too, that’d be quite useful to me.

        1. FYI every officially certified HEPA filter gets out >99% of PM0.3, not PM2.5. The actual HEPA test is for PM0.3. So plenty of machines can do this, not just IQAir. Yes they claim they can get down much smaller, and perhaps that may be important, but the medical literature proving that just doesn’t yet exist.


          You should check out the Sharp KC-W200SW (2500 RMB) and if you have a big room to filter… the Sharp KC-W380SW (4999 RMB). I promise you those machines do not disappoint, the filters are cheaper too as all those overly expensive imported machines.

          Honestly I don’t even understand why an extra “1% cleaner” would push people to consider a product which charges double the price for the machine and more as triple the price for a filter. That is just being paranoid. Of course I won’t say you need to buy the lowest range air purifier and be happy… but even the lowest range already improves air quality by about 90% which means from 200 AQI to 20 AQI and that is superb already.

          Oh and if you are skeptical about what I just wrote… why not read this article on DIY filters:

          1. Good article on the DIY test results. A good do it yourself air purifire should include ear-plugs. Now we need to find a fan that does not produce so much noise.

            For many low level noise justifies high cost of the brand air purifiers.


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