Pollen PPE

Given my longstanding allergies to pollen and my fortnight in the hospital with pneumonia this past July I am increasingly attentive to what I breathe, especially when doing yard work.

For several years I wore a fitted industrial respirator when mowing and trimming, but even then I often had several days of wheezing and sneezing afterwards.  While in the hospital in July I noticed that several of the caregivers wore powered air filtration helmets.  They seemed like a near perfect solution to my problem.  Their units were designed for medical/laboratory conditions and cost roughly $3k so that was not where I was going to go, but then I recalled the filter helmets often worn by wood turners and began my exploration there.

My first choice was the Axminster APF10 unit from England.  It seemed to have the most streamlined configuration and the most comfortable fit.  On inquiry I was informed that the company did not ship to the US so I had to remove them from consideration.  (I am uncertain as to their current shipping regs; I might still like to get one, so if you are going to the UK and would be willing to pick one up for me there, let me know.)

In the end the only option left to me was the Trend Airshield Pro unit, which I did order.  In some respects it is a fine unit, in other aspects not so much.  There are other options, generally for the sandblasting and welding arena, but the prices for many of those units ($1500 and up) put them outside my immediate consideration.

When evaluating the Trend Airshield primary functionality, keeping the nasties out of my lungs, it does an excellent job.  I have worn it several times mowing with nary a sneeze, wheeze, nor runny nose in the aftermath.

Alas, the unit is clearly designed for a static posture in use, in other words being used by someone standing in one place, not moving or bending very much.  It is very top-heavy so the motions involved with mowing or trimming are problematic.  It has fallen from its perch several times in use.

Getting the headband to fit properly remains a challenge, at least for my head, despite adjusting everything there is to adjust.  On a comfortability scale from 1 to 10, I would rate the unit a minus 3.  To get it snug enough to stay put while I am mowing or trimming or brush-hogging it is painful to wear as the front band imbeds into my forehead.  I am working on devising a padding system to make it tolerable, but I am not there just yet.  It seems that there is something just not right about the configuration.

As for the final consideration, namely price, at around $350 it seems expensive but a cost I am more than willing to bear given my respiratory allergies and desire for wheeze-free living.