To the Extreme

It may have seemed strange to some, that I recently sold my Triton Respirator, despite not being used a great deal, as it did have a purpose as part of my shed’s safety gamut.

Over the past few years, I found it was getting very little use – it often would have taken longer to get out and put on than the job that I wanted to perform that may have justified its use.  I have a general rule-of-thumb that part of the design process for an item of safety equipment is that it needs to be able to be set up faster than the job it will be participating in.

So in some situations, the Triton Respirator would have still fitted the bill – if I needed a respirator to be worn for a few hours straight, then one that had such good filtration, and that slung as much weight as possible onto the waist rather than keeping it in the helmet would be preferred.

However, in my workshop, I was looking for something to suit jobs that took a lot less time.  So I was particularly interested when I saw the Purelite Xstream at the Brisbane Wood Show last year.  The Purelite Xstream is a self-contained lightweight “Powered Air Purifying Respirator” providing both respiratory protection and eye and face protection.

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It is combination of respiratory protection, and head protection / full face protection in one.  When I tried it out I was impressed by the overall weight (under 1kg), but most of all just how easy it was to put on.  Here was a unit that would actually get used because it was convenient enough to do so when it was needed. A big tick in my safety equipment criteria checklist.

The unit does not have (although looks like it could be added if necessary) any auditory protection.  That is not a bad thing, as it encourages the use of the helmet when you are looking for a full face shield (that doesn’t fog), and/or a respiratory protection that doesn’t have to be stuck to the front of the face.  The last time I used a dust mask it was pretty warm inside the shed, and in no time the dust mask was completely saturated in perspiration.  Really pleasant.  If I had the Purelite at the time, it would have been a completely different experience.  Back to hearing though- you can still use hearing protection, but with this helmet you are better off with the ear plug variety.  Or ear defenders designed for use with hard hats.

The Purelite is not going to be the only respiratory protection I use in the workshop, but for those tasks where a full face shield is important, or where I am needing to wear respiratory protection for an extended period, this helmet is going to come into its own. And still, it is easy enough to put on and take off that it will get used when it is needed, rather than put into the “too inconvenient” pile.

Where the air filtration is located is pretty clever too – it has plenty of surface area, is easy to access, and yet is neatly out of the way at the same time.  Air passes through slots in the top of the helmet, through the two filters before being pumped over the top of the helmet and straight down across the face shield, stopping condensation from the user’s breath. The filters are rated P2, so despite their unusual look, they are still properly rated for highly dusty (and fine dust) environments.  The batteries will provide around 8 hours of airflow between charges.

Airflow is between 150 and 210 litres per minute (depending on the amount of battery charge).  The switch is located at the back, and is pretty easy to find to push on and off, even when wearing gloves.  The headband is easily adjusted – it has a knob you twist to get the desired tightness, that you then click into place to lock the setting.  This makes it easy to put on with it loose, then can be tightened to the right amount, rather than having it preset to a compromised setting – one that means the helmet can be worn easily, but is a bit loose in use.  Of course if you want the feeling of the helmet slopping about on your head, you can choose to preset the tightness…but I bet you won’t!

The unit is available from Maxis Tools, and Carbatec for around $500.


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