News Column

A drive to apply new standards to air, water purifiers

May 1, 2014

Wu Yiyao in Shanghai

Consumers need a way to assess domestic brands' efficiency, quality

How much would you pay for cleaner air and water? At the same time, how do you know the expense is justified?

In Shanghai, Zeng Wenjing spent 7,000 yuan ($1,123) for an air purifier and 10,000 yuan for a domestic water purification system. Zeng said it was a worthwhile investment, because the two devices will help to keep his family healthy.

With rising awareness of healthy living, purchases of domestic appliances that enhance the indoors environment has leveraged a large share of China's market.

Data from GfK, a service provider of market research and consultancy, show that about 1.7 million air purifiers were sold in China in 2013, a 116 percent year-on-year increase.

In terms of water purifiers, combined sales revenue in all price ranges reached 9.5 billion yuan, up 79.5 percent year-on-year, according to CWN, a specialized network in the water purification sector.

But despite the skyrocketing sales revenue, market insiders said the market needs to be more regulated with a clear national standard, and consumers need to better understand what they are buying.

At a department store on Shanghai'sWest Nanjing Road, 34 models of 12 brands of air purifiers were available in the showroom.

"Various brands, various indexes, various prices - it can be quite confusing for consumers to choose a suitable device," said Zhang Ziqi, a 34-year-old accountant shopping for an air purifier.

Zhang then decided to buy a model from South Korea after she compared prices and functions.

In China's expanding air and water purifier market, foreign brands are occupying a big share.

According to ZOL, a website that provides e-commerce transaction records, seven of the 10 best-selling brands of air purifiers in China in 2013 were foreign.

Many consumers lack confidence in domestic brands due to an absence of up-to-date national standards, an industry analyst said.

Current standards on indoor air cleaners, enacted in 2008, don't take into consideration the need for consumers to filter PM2.5 (particulate matter up to 2.5 micrometers in size) or increased use by consumers, according to Song Guangsheng, director of the National Indoor Environment and Indoor Environmental Product Quality Supervision Center.

Water purifiers are in no better a place. According to a report by Oriental Outlook, China currently has no national standard for domestic water purification systems, with many small manufacturers making products in workshops instead in standardized plants.

The picture will soon change, however, as China is drafting new national standards for domestic air cleaners and water purifiers, market insiders say.

"We have been working on the new national standards and will take clean air delivery rate as one of the major benchmarks for evaluating the effectiveness of an air cleaner," said Lu Jianguo, a senior engineer with the China Electric Appliance Research Institute and a member of committee helping to draft the new standards.

Clean air delivery rate measures the cubic feet per minute of air that has had particles of a given size removed.

According to Qingyuan Group, a leading water purifier manufacturer that helped draft the standards, they should come into effect in August.

(China Daily05/02/2014 page9)

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Source: China Daily: Hong Kong Edition

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