Who is Smart Air?

Smart Air is a social enterprise dedicated to fixing the injustice in the air pollution industry. We do this by educating people about the harms of air pollution and providing effective yet affordable solutions for clean air.

I saw a problem that needed to be fixed.

Thomas Talhelm Co-founder

In January 2013, PhD student Thomas Talhelm was shocked by how much air purifiers cost. He bought a HEPA filter, strapped it to a fan, and ran some tests using a particle counter he bought. He published the results on his blog Particle Counting.

A few magazines wrote about Thomas’s “re­discovery,” and then the Beijing Energy Network suggested he lead DIY workshops to help concerned Beijingers build their own.

When people said they had trouble finding the right type of fan and a trustworthy HEPA, Thomas and his friends Gus and Anna launched Smart Air to ship fans and filters at an affordable price, to people all over China.

We believe that the purifier business can be honest and transparent. If everyone had access to open­source data and testing, we’d all know effective purifiers don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

The Smart Air Team

The Smart Air China Team

The Smart Air Team



Thomas Talhelm

Thomas built his first DIY in Beijing doing PhD research in cultural psychology. Since then, he somehow managed to get a job as a professor at the University of Chicago. When he’s not leading Smart Air, Thomas studies cultural differences between northern and southern China.


Anna Guo

Anna helped Thomas assemble his first DIY air filter in 2013 and has been tolerating his incessant particle counting ever since. Now she runs tests, orders materials, and manages team projects for Smart Air. In her spare time, Anna enjoys photography, yoga, tea, and French film.


Paddy Robertson

Paddy is a graduate in aero engineering and a trick of several trades. He manages the China business and leads product development. Outside of the office he’ll be climbing or trying to fit in with the locals doing Tai Chi.



Esther Wang

Esther is Smart Air China’s customer service lead and prior to the recent epidemic of babies in her life, she enjoyed music, dancing, traveling, and ultimate frisbee. And she hopes to enjoy them again someday.


Noah Willingham

Noah bases his China adventures out of the lovely city of Hangzhou. He is helping Smart Air put on workshops throughout the Yangtze River Delta.


Aily Zhang

Originally from San Francisco, Aily is now based in the Beij and runs bilingual workshops for Smart Air across Northern China. She also assists with business development projects. While not giving talks on health interventions for air pollution, Aily can be found with her nose in a book, chowing down at a 饺子馆儿 jiaoziguanr, and going on runs (to compensate for pigging out on tons of vegetarian dumplings #Itis).