Sue's Blog

Wearable air purifiers for fragrance sensitivity - do they really work?

Some failsafers - especially those with asthma or rhinitis - suffer from fragrance sensitivity.

"I'm sensitive to all smells ... I try to avoid prolonged exposure to indoor environments where I cannot control the smell, e.g. shopping centres or air conditioned office buildings with no external opening windows. Once a smell enters the air conditioning, it goes all throughout the building" - Sam [1462]

"I have had some serious breathing problems from some perfumes, perfumed room ‘fresheners’, particularly carpet cleaners and perfumed washing powder" - Suzanne [1463]

My own fragrance sensitivity suddenly intensified last year in a small plane when a passenger near me used strong smelling body lotion. Thankfully, after four months like a prisoner in my own home - unless using nasal screens - I recovered to where I can lead a normal life again, although I still need to have protection in smelly environments.

First Defence nasal screens were my lifesaver during my MCS nightmare, but they are not invisible so I was excited to try another option: a small plastic wearable device called the Wein Air Supply. The brainchild of Stan Weinberg from Wein Products in Los Angeles, Stan says he developed the wearable ionic personal air purifier "to protect people from airborne hazards anywhere they went, not just in fixed locations".

The Wein Air Supplies (personal and room models)

minimate02thumb      WeinAS300R       WeinVI3500

I've had my Wein Air Supply for five months now, and I love it.

This product claims to protect against

  • perfumes
  • odours
  • smoke including cigarette smoke but would work for bushfires
  • moulds
  • pollen
  • allergens such as cats
  • dust
  • germs - includes airborne viruses such as colds and flu

When to use?

At home: It didn’t take me long to realise that I should never leave home without my Wein. I now wear it all the time and turn it on when I need it - for my Tai Chi class, gym, before I go into smelly shops, shopping centres, supermarkets and waiting rooms. I also wear it at home when perfumed people come to visit.

Travelling: On a recent roadtrip with an overnight stop, we had forgotten to bring our RainbowAir ozone generator that gets rid of perfume smells in motels. I cleaned the dirty and very perfumey air filters on our room's air conditioning unit while wearing my Wein, (would have been a horrible job without) and wore it all the time except for sleeping. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to leave it running beside my bed, as mentioned by this internet reviewer:

                  "it has helped me sleep better by putting it near my bed ..." - Adam

Outdoors: Howard was surprised at how effective these are against pollen for hayfever and now wears his own while bushwalking.

On planes: most recently, we have just returned from six weeks in Nepal, including a 30 day trek. I happily wore my Wein on planes, including a re-run of last year where the woman next to me, returning from a holiday in the south Pacific, was wearing nothing but a skimpy sarong and some smelly toiletries – but this time it didn’t bother me.

City streets: We both wore our Weins all the time when out and about in Kathmandu which is now one of the most polluted cities in the world.

In cafés: if the person at the next table is wearing perfume, or smoking. 

Trekking: despite some of the cleanest air in the world in the high Himalayas, I was astonished to find I needed an air purifier: first, when our guide showed up wearing stinky sunblock (next day we gave him a tube of our fragrance-free Megan Gale), and then in one of the trekkers’ lodges where the walls didn’t reach the ceiling and the trekkers in the room next to us sprayed themselves liberally with deodorant.
Does it look discreet?

It's a small grey plastic device on a short lanyard. A friend asked "are you measuring how many steps you do in a day?" - so that's what she thought it was. I feel very comfortable wearing this anywhere and I like the way I can turn it on and off so easily.

What about workplaces?

"At work they changed to a dreadful ‘rose’ perfumed air freshener, which affected me immediately, firstly my lips felt like they were burning and then swelled up, one eye swelled and breathing became difficult. No-one else in the office could smell it, the cleaning company denied changing products and it ended with everyone thinking it was ‘all in my head’ ... I find my life can be an absolute nightmare" - Suzanne [1463]

While walking the Camino in Spain this year we met a 17 year old school student from Canada. He said they have perfume-free workplaces everywhere. Any student who turns up at his school wearing strong cologne or perfume is sent home for the day.  Increasingly in the US, there are perfume free workplaces thanks to the $100,000 payout by the City of Detroit to employee Susan McBride (see below)

Maybe one day it will be like that in Australia, but in the meantime you need to provide your own protection. We think the Wein Air Supply is up to the task.

See the video

See how it works in this Good Housekeeping TV segment. Note that the latest version is considerably smaller, lighter and  less obvious.

How long does it last?

The Wein uses a CR123A or CR123 3V lithium battery available from photographic and electronic stores which are claimed to last for 30 hours. One internet reviewer says she goes through at least one battery a week, so this could be a cost of $7 per week.

There is now a rechargable model AS300R and a silent room model Vortex VI3500.

How to buy?

I bought mine through ebay from South Korea - it cost about $A199 including fast shipping, was posted the next morning and arrived within a few days.

NOW YOU CAN BUY THEM THROUGH at a far cheaper price including GST and postage. There is now a rechargable model and a room model. We look back to more feedback about these units.

Do I still need nasal screens?

I still carry some – they are so light and convenient. I will never catch a plane again without them, just in case. For me, there has never been anything worse than having to sit still in a plane and count the minutes until it lands while being assaulted by fragrance. And what if the battery in my Wein Air Supply runs out?... it's good to have a backup. However, that said, I haven’t used nasal screens since it arrived.


We'd love to hear from other failsafers who try the Wein Air Supply for fragrance sensitivity or MCS (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Read more

You can see more about First Defence nasal screens and other ideas on our blog post 7 Hints for fragrance sensitivity

The science

Grinshpun, S.A., Mainelis, G., Trunov, Adhikari, A., Reponen, T., and Willeke, K. (2005) Evaluation of Ionic Air Purifiers for Reducing Aerosol Exposure in Confined Indoor Spaces, Indoor Air

The (older models) AS150MM (FAB), VI-2500 Automate and Sanimate were shown to significantly reduce the aerosol concentration (down to virus size) in the breathing zone. Any air condition or air mixing enhanced the air cleaning effect.

See full list of scientific references


Is Perfume the New Second-Hand Smoke? By Danny Seo "You may have heard about Susan McBride, the civil servant in Detroit who recently won a $100,000 settlement with the City of Detroit because they failed to accommodate her allergy to perfume and other scented products. McBride claimed a co-worker’s excessive use of perfume and air fresheners made her sick and made it difficult for her to breathe, and after her superiors did nothing to accommodate the complaint, she sued the city and won..."