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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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More on the Beard/Mask Interface

After last month’s suggestion to use a gelatinous product to help the seal around a particulate dust mask, readers reminded me that my method is, at best, a stopgap measure, and more probably, a vain attempt to accomplish the impossible. According to reader Jay Simmons, a veteran of the chemical industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers anything more than a two-day growth of beard an impediment to proper sealing around a mask, and in his experience, will fine an employer who allows a “bearded” worker in a “respirator-required” work area. Jay asserts that possibly the only way for woodworkers to have both facial hair and clean air is with a positive air pressure device.

Figure 9: Opening any box, tool or safety equipment,
is a thrill --- as long as it is something for the shop!
Jay is absolutely correct. Even with Waxelene and a new mask adjusted so tight my eyes were bulging, there was still some leakage. Granted, this was during the most dust-intensive task I have ever undertaken, and one I am not likely to repeat anytime soon, but with the job less than one-fourth completed, it was decision time… my beard, my health, or my wallet. With razor in hand, contemplating the unthinkable, I decided to forego a tool I was saving my nickels and dimes for and invest in the Trend Airshield Pro. As the mechanic might say about an overdue oil change, “pay me now, or pay me much more later.”

Unfortunately, purchasing the Trend Airshield Pro was a bit of a leap of faith as there is simply a dearth of information available. Next month I will correct that situation with an in depth review. Check back, you will not want to miss this.

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