Summertime is here. School is out, the kids are free… and it’s time to dust off the lawnmower and get to work.

If you are anything like me, the thought of cutting grass sends you into an allergic coma. Fresh cut grass, pollen, and dust give me fits. About half-way through cutting the front yard, uncontrollable sneezing kicks in. By the time I make it to the backyard, my eyes are swollen and itchy. It’s all I can do to finish the job and run to the shower for a little relief.

If you are a seasonal allergy sufferer, there is a good chance grass pollen causes you significant irritation and makes the all-American chore almost unbearable. The good news is that there are several products out there that can make your life a little easier.

As environmental contractors, respiratory protection is a big deal to us. We spend a lot of time is masks and suits. Here are 4 of the best masks you can use this season to eliminate allergy irritation while you are cutting the grass.

Level 1 Protection: Particulate Respirator

The good ol’ fashioned dust mask. These masks are designed to protect you from non-harmful particles such as dust and insulation. They are cheap, comfortable, and disposable. They won’t protect you from toxic vapors or harmful chemicals, but they can go a long way to providing some relief while you are cutting the grass.

 

Level 2 Protection: Half-Face Respirator

Stepping it up a little takes us to the half-face mask. This one forms an air-tight seal around your nose and mouth and forces all the air through a set of filters. While the first mask helps to reduce the irritants you breathe, this one will eliminate them all the way. The mask is around $25 and a set of replaceable filters is less than $10. It’s a really great investment into your health and comfort.

It’s important to note that filters will typically need to be purchased separately from the mask.

Level 3 Protection: Full-Face Respirator

While the masks we have looked at so far will help out tremendously with the air you breathe, they won’t do anything for your eyes. A full-face respirator will provide the same respiratory protection as the half-face mask, but extend the seal around your eyes as well. It’s the best of both worlds and really does an excellent job of providing comfort.

This one is my personal choice for grass cutting. It costs a little more than the half-face mask, but completely protects my eyes. Sure, it may look a little goofy… but that’s a small price to pay.

Level 4 Protection: Air-Powered Respirator

If you want to pull out all the stops and get the most comfortable fit available, the air-powered respirator is for you. As far as grass cutting goes, you will get the same level of protection as the full-face mask, but this one will give you an increased level of comfort.

The mask works by pumping air through a filter then into your mask. The result is a nice breeze of fresh air to help keep your face cool. In addition, the forced air will keep irritants out of the mask even if it is not able to fully seal around glasses or beards.

This mask is the most expensive on the list, but if you are serious about comfort and want to cut grass in style, it’s the way to go.