What’s the Best Air Filter to Use in Shanghai?

Dealing with pollution in Shanghai — here’s some anecdotal advice and tips:

The question ‘what is the best air filter in Shanghai’ is a common one, with a simple answer.

While the so-called best air filters may seem to be the most expensive, it’s more about the actual filter inside, than the machine.

IQ Air, Blue Air and such are incredibly expensive, but the cheaper brands still have a HEPA filter inside.

It’s the HEPA filter which does all the work in filtering.

So we go for Panasonic air filters. They are the cheapest – around 800 RMB for the small version – and the replacement filters are around 500 RMB.

We’ve tested air filters using the testing machines and found the results to be good with normal Panasonic machines.

If you are wondering where to buy genuine HEPA air filters to replace in your Panasonic filter, then just go to the official tMall.

You can get Panasonic filters for 2000 RMB which also include humidifiers, and you can go to 3000 RMB or upwards easily for brands like Philips, but it’s pure branding.

The machine doesn’t need to look or feel fancy, it just needs a genuine air filter inside it.

You can buy a Origins AQI Egg to test the air.

These are cheap and so they only last around 9-12 months, realistically, before the readings start to make less sense or contradict your other readings (such as the recognised outdoor AQI or the AQI in a building which has a reading shown).

After having researched the filters, the AQI monitor and more, we have found a simple solution – get two cheap Panasonic air filters in each room (so the total spend is only 1,600 RMB per room), buy 8+ replacement filters in advance, and change the filters every 9 months or so.

Other tips to keep your home pollution-free and the indoor air cleaner:

  • Don’t wash your air filters with water, they will clog up. Just lightly bash off the dust every couple of days
  • Leave them on 24 hours a day. There’s no reason not to. Electricity bills in Shanghai are cheap and even on a good day, the pollution is 50-100.
  • Mopping the floor helps to clean away particles and to give new particles a clean surface to clean to (instead of float around in the air)
  • If you have a newborn (or any age of child!) and want to ensure their mattress is clean on badly polluted days, use a sticky roller from IKEA to roll up the dust from where they sleep.
  •  In-car air filters are around 700 RMB from Philips and we have also researched their effectiveness, finding very good results.
  • Fill your house with plants to help freshen the air (though don’t place plants where people sleep)
  • Facemasks such as 3M, Vogmask and the like have been proven as very effective. We use them if we need to go outside on days of 130 AQI or higher.
  • It has been shown that exercise – even on polluted days such as 150 or below – is more beneficial for the lungs than not doing exercise, as it helps to keep the lungs efficiently self-cleaning.
  • You can roughly forecast the pollution – not only with many apps (search AQI in the app store) but using e.g. BBC Weather, you can see the wind forecast. An Easterly wind of over 10 will generally clear things away. Westerly or Northerly directions of less than 10 generally mean a polluted day.

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