How Air Purifiers Became the Newest Wellness Craze

Air purifiers are being sold as health devices. But do they work?

EJ Dickson
Published in
9 min readMar 4, 2019


Illustration by Nicole Ginelli

AAdi struggled with eczema for years. At a young age, an allergist told the 30-year-old that he was allergic to house dust. He tried everything — “all the nonsteroidal prescription topical ointments, shots, changes in diet, various moisturizing creams” — to no avail. Then, he started researching air purifiers on Google. “It just makes sense, right?” he says. ”House dust allergy… reduce allergen… air purifier.” He ended up buying an AeraMax air purifier on Amazon. As he put it on Reddit: “Holy cow, did things change.”

“Within a couple hours, the effects were apparent — I was losing that gross ‘wet’ feeling on my skin that comes from inflammation, my itchiness was decreasing, and an overall calmness set upon my skin,” he wrote on Reddit. After a few days, his eczema was continuing to improve. “It’s still early, so we’ll see if I’ll be eating my words in a couple days, but for now, I think I’ve found relief,” he wrote.

There’s growing sentiment that air purifiers are a panacea for conditions as wide ranging as bronchitis and pet allergies to masking pipe tobacco smell in a “man cave.” On the internet, air purifiers are marketed as the new CBD oil, a proposed solution for all health ills. In Facebook mom groups and Amazon customer reviews, people share their favorite makes and models, and while some occasionally gripe about defects, the overall consensus appears to be that if you or a loved one struggle with asthma or pet allergies, air purifiers can be a game-changer.

The air purifier market is experiencing an unprecedented boom — especially abroad. In South Korea, air purifier sales have tripled since 2016, with the government recently announcing a plan to install the devices in all kindergarten and pre-K classes. In China, where severe air pollution has been linked to an estimated 1.6 million preventable deaths, as many as 7.5 million devices were sold last year, up from 3.1 million in 2013.

The upswing in sales across Asia can be attributed to government efforts to reduce air pollution levels, and “an increasingly large middle class who have the resources to be aware of the problem and the disposable income to look to the market…