Air purifier sales boom amid China’s pollution

If you currently live in China, and especially in one of its larger cities like Beijing or Shanghai, you are surely well-acquainted with the recent wave of pollution that eerily envelopes the tallest of buildings, often making it difficult to see even a kilometer in the distance. Although I can remember looking out over the Bund from atop the Oriental Pearl Tower in 2007 and seeing the city slowly disappear in front of me, the recent photos coming out of China are even more alarming.

Recent smog readings on the air quality index in Shanghai have gone as high as 450+, with some lower readings in the high 100s, though a “warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200.” 300 is considered “serious pollution .” This has led many school children to be kept at home and has at least one eldery citizen carrying a 15 kilogram air purifier around with her wherever she goes. Indeed, from face masks to air filters to just staying indoors, everyone is trying to at least lessen their exposure to the air around them.

As one can imagine, this has also caused a recent surge in the number and variety of air purification systems being sold. Searches for air purifiers on Taobao, China’s largest online commerce site, have increased 513% for the week ending Dec. 10 compared to the preceding seven days, with a 1431.20% increase when compared to the same time period in the previous year. Actual sales of air purifiers increased 267.50% over the same seven-day period, with a 1264.40% increase over the same period the year before.

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