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Dr. Anil Simhadri with his Totobobo mask and bicycle in front of the Birmingham Palace in London

Dr. Anil Simhadri with his Totobobo mask and bicycle in front of the Birmingham Palace in London

I was very happy to receive the first letter from Dr. Anil Simhadri back in 2010. He explained how Totobobo mask helped him to continue to cycle in London, dispite the traffic smog and his condition of asthma.
Recently I ask Dr. Simhadra about his long term experience and I was very gratefult to receive a very detail account of his expereince. I think this is very useful for new users as a reference of how Totobobo mask can be applied in different situation and for multiple purposes. Thanks Dr. Simhadri for the permission to publish the letter.

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From London, U.K. Novemebr 4th, 2016
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Dear Francis,

My situation is different because my lungs have always been quite weak. I had Whooping cough as a child and this had affected my lungs. Whooping cough can destroy the “cilia” or tiny hairs along the bronchus/brochioles and this can make it difficult to clear mucus. This means people like me are more prone to infections or flu or other respiratory tract infections.

As a child I used to get through a chest infection every winter. In addition to this I also suffer from hayfever and asthma. I knew when I saw your mask in 2009 that this concept was likely to be a success. Having tried previous masks I immediately knew when I tried your mask that this concept was likely to be a winner.

Currently I find your totobobo mask particularly useful for me for a number of situations:

1) Preventing flu: currently it is flu season in the UK and everyone on the underground seems to be coughing or sneezing. Since the underground is very congested I always use the mask during rush hour. During rush hour one can find yourself packed in like sardines and virtually kissing the other man or woman next to you. If they have the flu then your almost certain to get it unless you are wearing (totobobo) mask. I do remember on your website saying that even F92 filters prevent aerosol droplets from entering your lung. Best of all is to avoid the underground entirely and cycle instead. This way you eliminate the risk of contracting infection and also improve your aerobic lung capacity.

2) During hayfever season in the summer when the pollen count is high outside I get allergic sinusitis or rhinitis. Wearing the mask helps prevent this.

3) Preventing transmission – When I do have a cold like last month I always wore the mask when I was handling my young son who is 6 months oldnas I did not want him to catch anything from me. So this mask help prevent transmission of infection to other family members.

4) When doing spring cleaning the house is very dusty. Since dust mites can worsen my asthma.

Dr. Anil Simhadri with his Totobobo mask and bicycle in front of the Birmingham Palace in London

Dr. Anil Simhadri with his Totobobo mask and bicycle in front of the Birmingham Palace in London.


5) When cycling to avoid air-pollution from trickling triggering my asthma. .
Overall for me the mask has been very useful because whooping cough has left me with a weak lung which meant I was much more prone to chest infections. Secondly I have a lot of allergy problems with hayfever , asthma and dust mite allergy.

From my personal experience of using a mask over the last five or six years I would say is particularly effective at preventing infections such as flu and is very good at hayfever prevention and preventing dust from triggering my asthma.If I am in a dusty environment for let’s say 20 minutes I will start to get wheezing and one can hear this on my chest if one listens with a stethoscope.If I then put on the Totobobo mask and stay there for another half an hour in the dusty environment my wheezing will disappear by about 60/70%. So clinically thats a 70% improvement in breathing after wearing the mask for half an hour. Similarly with hayfever. With preventing infections it is difficult to prove.

When I go to India the problems are even worse because pollution there is about five times more than it is here in the UK. For me the Totobobo is a real lifesaver in the dusty polluted environments of Mumbai or Delhi in India. Thanks for all your help.

Regards,

Anil Simhadri
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diwalli

Air Pollution Level Skyrocket in India during Diwali
Diwali, the festival of lights is one of the biggest festivals in India. This festival which signifies the homecoming of Lord Rama, is an occasion of celebration and opulence. Traditionally, the festival is celebrated by decorating one’s home with lights and confetti and by bursting all kinds of firecrackers. Fun and games apart, fireworks lead to an unimaginable increase in the level of air pollutants.
Anyone who has been to India, and to Delhi in particular, during Diwali would definitely mention how polluted the air gets. According to a report in newspaper, The Hindu, in 2015, on Diwali the levels of harmful PM2.5 as measured by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee were 985 microgrammes per cubic metre at 9.20 pm on Diwali night in a certain location, as against the World Health Organisation’s safe standard of 60. This was twice as high as the PM2.5 levels in September 2015 in Singapore which forced school closures and the relocation of outdoor and sporting events.

A Toxic Concoction of Pollutants
A 2014 study by the Indian Environment Portal on the effects of firecrackers on air quality found that very high levels of PM10 and PM2.5 as well as gaseous pollutants like SO2 and NO2 are present in the air during Diwali. Firecrackers contain salts of aluminum, arsenic, sulphur, manganese, iron dust etc that are released in the atmosphere.
Inhalation of smoke of firecrackers is very harmful not just to the asthmatic and the elderly but also to health human beings and can cause cough, fever and can also cause acute eosinophillic pneumonia. Fine particles such as PM2.5 are particularly harmful to humans as they get into the respiratory system and trigger asthmatic attacks and even cause permanent damage. The chemicals found in the firecrackers are harmful if inhaled. Antimony sulphide that is added to produce glitter effect is toxic and a possible carcinogen. You can check out the complete list of pollutants and their effects on Table 6 in the report mentioned above.

Diwali firework contains a lot of air pollution

Diwali firework contains a lot of air pollution

Totobobo Masks with F94 filters suitable for Diwali
A study regarding the specifications of different anti pollution masks available in the Indian market recommended Totobobo masks for protection from most pollutants during Diwali. The pollutants emitted during the festival were compared to what the anti pollution mask was capable of filtered and it was found out that the F94 filters were sufficient to cut down most of the PM2.5 particles.
It is important to know that a mask needs to be used correctly if it is to provide any protection from pollutants. For example if the seal between the mask and the nose and mouth is not secure, then the mask is useless. Totobobo masks have a seal check feature where a poor seal can be easily detected and the mask can even be moulded to improve the seal using hot water. Anti pollution masks should also be regularly replaced as their performance drops with us. Totobobo masks have a filter life check which makes it easy to know when the filter needs to be replaced.

These features make totobobo masks suitable for high pollution conditions similar to the ones experienced during Diwali, the festival of lights.
If you are in India, you can buy Totobobo masks by calling Mr Roopak directly on his mobile number 9871166668.

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Totobobo filter lungs

“Totobobo filter lungs” showing air pollution captured in 3 months of cycling and taking Underground.

“Whatever is on the filters, glad that stuff is not in my lungs!”
John from London, U.K.

John sent us his used filters after 3 months of using Totobobo mask for cycling and taking the Underground in London. He was shocked to see the dirty filters, much in the same way as Claire’s account of her experience of using our mask. At an individual level, increased level of fine particles, or PM2.5, was found to be responsible for triggering heart attack and respiratory diseases.

In hindsight, both John and Claire were smart to do something to reduce their exposure to air pollution. A recent study, jointly conducted by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, estimated that 5.5. million lives were lost in 2013 to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution, which has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide. While pollution-related deaths mainly strike young children and the elderly, these deaths also result in lost labor income for working-age men and women. The cost to the economy is substantial. Through the lens of “welfare losses” across age groups, the aggregate cost of premature deaths was more than US$5 trillion worldwide in 2013.

The infographic below is from the World Bank site. It shows the substantial burden of air pollution, strengthening the economic case for action. As you read the infographic, think about what will you do to reduce air pollution.

Air pollution costs money and lives, World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Air pollution costs money lives, World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (image credit: World Bank)

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Guest post: Dennis Kaminski

Safety for road working

Safety for road working


Roadways and construction workers put their lives at risk while working on the highways and streets. The job turns more dangerous on the fall of darkness when visibility turns low. Late night activities also expose the workers to high-speed traffic and chances of accident also increase. Then there are health concerns about the amount of dust and vehicular pollution that the workforce has to face. It becomes necessary to adopt few precautionary measures and use safety equipments which keep the workers safe. This article will give a detailed guide on how road workers can stay safe while working in the harsh conditions on the streets.

High Visibility Apparel

One of the major reasons of roadway accidents is low visibility where vehicles cannot see workers in the night. Governments in many countries have made it mandatory for employers to provide their laborers with high visibility apparels. These specially designed vests and jackets glow in the dark making the workers visible to traffic. They can be easily spotted which prevents chances of collision and accidents.

Protection Gear

It is imperative that workers use minimum protective gear when they are working in a hazardous profession. This includes basic items like helmets, gloves, boots etc which keep the personnel safe in the working zone. Engaging in outdoor construction air also exposes the workers to high levels of pollution.

They have to face the pollution emitted from the flow of traffic along with the smoke and smudge of construction machinery. To prevent respiratory diseases and other health problems, workers should be equipped with protective masks. You must go for high quality pollution masks like the Totobobo masks which provide complete protection from pollution and other airborne hazards. The masks easily fits every face shape and can be modified according to facial structures.

Traffic Barriers

Workers need to be safe and work without tension when they are on the road. It is necessary to use to temporary traffic barriers like cones, grills, etc which warns the drivers in advance. They should be placed at a sufficient distance ahead of the work zone so that drivers get adequate time to react. The whole operation area should be guarded with such barriers to provide protection to the workers. Barriers which be reflective or glow in the dark to mark out the area clearly at night.

Signs and Warnings

The work area should be clearly marked with signs and warnings for approaching vehicles. This should be placed well ahead the working zone and caution the drivers of an approaching sensitive zone. You should use signs like “Slow Down,” “Men at Work” or “Working Area Ahead” to notify drivers. The signs should be glowing or reflective to make them visible after the onset of evening.

Do not use old and worn out signs as they may be insufficient to draw the attention of the vehicles. Also, place the signs at strategic location and heights so that approaching vehicles can locate them even without trying. Having construction vehicles with flashing lights and arrow boards improves the chances of drawing attention of motorists.

Channelizing Devices

This can be done as a part of the traffic sign and barriers, though these equipments are used for channeling rather than creating barriers. Placing drums and traffic cones to channel traffic is necessary when you are blocking an area of constant traffic flow. The cones are placed in a line and direct the vehicles to a detour away from the working zone. It is beneficial to place a person dedicated to controlling traffic and assisting vehicles to navigate the working area.

Proper Training

Along with equipments, workers should also be trained in the hazards and safety procedures of working on the road. Sometime your employer may make you undergo such a program or you can even do it independently and increase your chances of employment. Knowing what to expect makes you prepared to deal with the challenges you might face as a road or construction worker.

Conclusion

These simple tips will ensure complete workers safety. For one, employees should not attempt anything dangerous without the access to proper equipment. Knowing how to handle the different equipment properly and understanding company policies is important too. Employers need to offer proper training to ensure that employees have better safety. It’s also important for the company to focus on offering easy communication and workflow for the employees.

The steps are pretty easy to follow and with the right training and traffic safety equipment, you’ve nothing to worry about.

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The news, healthcare agencies, and governments all warn of the pollution faced by billions of people around the world.

These warnings have been around for so long, however, that many people have come to accept the pollution that they are surrounded by. Another reason that more people are not worried or taking proper precautions is because they do not understand the real risk.

This is why this infograph provided by Cykelvalg.dk has put in terms that people understand: Cigarette smoke.

You may be careful about your exposure to second hand smoke and you certainly would not let your children smoke. In Beijing alone, it is as though you and your family are smoking 118 cigarettes a month! This is how much pollution you are exposed to, every time that you step outdoors. Even in Singapore, the average across the year is 25 cigarettes a month. Therefore it is advisable to protect yourself and your children with an effective filter mask when you are outdoor in high pollution period such as haze, or in heavy motorised traffics area.

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Cyclists should wear an effective air filter mask or better move away from the busy roads. That’s the conclusion I got when looking at the animated 3D ‘Pollution map’ video of London. The orange yellow color, mainly along the main roads, indicates high level of air pollution where the blue color are area with better air quality. It is intuitive to think air pollution level is higher along the main roads and lower away from the main roads, but I could never imagine the differences can be so huge!

In the short video below you can see the highest air pollution concentrated along the main roads and peak at the junctions, likely the result of slow moving vehicles there. Most of the area far away from the main roads are much better. Next time when I have to wait for the green light at busy intersection, I will hold my breath as much as possible.

The negative health effect of different pollutants are not the same. Amongst the pollutants, ultrafine particles (0.1-0.3 micros, currently not being regulated) can travel deep down into the lungs and stay longer there than their bigger brothers (PM10, >10 microns, PM2.5 >2.5 microns). According to WHO:

Some 3.7 million premature deaths annually are attributed to outdoor air pollution. About 80% of those deaths are due to heart disease and stroke, while another 20% are from respiratory illnesses and cancers related to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most health-harmful air pollutant.

Ultra fine particles clearly reduces the health benefits of physical exercise. There are increased evidence showing these ultra-fine particles are the silence killer closely links to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. According to UCLA, the smaller the particles, the more toxic chemicals they are they are carrying. These very fine particles can travel deep into the lung. They stick to the lung and releases chemicals that damage the blood vessels and cause blood clogging plaques to form. The worst exposure is right next to the highway. Therefore, it is not a silly idea to wear a filter mask if your biking route have to go through busy traffic. However, do make sure two things, first the mask must form a good seal on your face, otherwise the pollutant will bypass the filters. Second make sure the filters are effective to block very fine particles, including those of 0.1 micron and PM2.5 (below 2.5 microns).

Totobobo filter test agaisnt ultrafine particles (0.1 microns) Test report

Shop for Totobobo mask

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“Comfort” is an intuitive and subjective feeling. Achieving it involve tackling a complex mix of hardware and human needs. It is clear that many users commented Totobobo mask is more comfortable compared to other masks they had tried before. What is the secret behind this special level of comfort?

First and the most important, the designer is the user himself.

Here is a list of features contributes to the unique comfort of Totobobo mask:

1) Extremely soft straps. Both our head strap for the classic mask or earloop strap of the earloop mask are substantially  softer and more elastic than other masks available in the market. Many users thought that the strap may break easily because they are so soft, but after many uses, they discovered this is one of the secret that makes Totobobo mask more comfortable than other reusable masks.

2) Light weight: tipping the scale at 20 grams, Totobobo mask is the lightest reusable mask in the world. A light mask requires less force to hold it on your face, and allows the use of softer straps.

3) Stand up design: keep the filter away from touching your nose or mouth. The filter won’t soak in your own saliva like a surgical mask or cloth mask will.

4) TotoSoft material: it is our propitiatory plastic material. Soft and comfortable to touch and it does not trigger any allergic reaction. It does not contain any latex, silicone or rubber.

5) Heat moulding: fine tune the shape so that it follows the user’s face closely. Therefore it requires minimum tension from the strap to fit the mask on user’s face. Less tension = more comfortable.

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Matthew’s SuperCool mask

Matthew's SuperCool mask

Matthew’s SuperCool mask. Matthew is using Totobobo F96 filter

I’m a great fan of your super-cool mask. For a while I used a 3M face mask when cycling but found that I got a staph infection in my nose owing to the high amount of moisture it created. Yet without any mask when cycling in London my asthma became very bad. The solution was your amazing Totobobo super-cool mask. There are a number of reviews online, even by competing mask manufacturers which dismiss its efficacy and say how unnatural it is to breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. What utter nonsense! After only a few days it had become second nature for me to breathe in this fashion when cycling. Now I swear by the mask and am writing with the express wish that you use my endorsement publicly.

Sincerely,
Matthew (London, UK)
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The Totobobo Petite mask attracted a lot of female fans since it’s introduction. The smaller version of Totobobo mask is softer, specifically designed for ladies and children. In most cases, the Petite is able to fit ladies out of the pack. For children, it may need to be trimmed smaller to fit. Some parents told us that it is not easy to customise the Totobobo Petite (TT-02) mask to fit their children, especially those smaller ones. Base on extensive study, we’ve redesigned the “Petite Simulator” which can be used to create a full size paper dummy for testing the size, and later serve as the template to customise the Petite mask for the user.

Following is a self-explanatory photo journal of the important steps to creates and trim the paper simulator, and use the result as a template to customise the actual Petite mask:

Download the file and print on A4 paper. Use the scale on top of the page to double check the scale is correct.

Download the file and print on A4 paper. Use the scale on top of the page to double check the scale is correct.

Print the simulator file on A4 paper, fold along the "fold line".

Print the simulator file on A4 paper, fold along the “fold line”.

You can make two Petit simulators. Follow the outline and cut out the mask.

You can make two Petite simulators from the print. Follow the outline and cut out the mask.

Use scotch tape to join the top (nose edge) and the bottom (chin edge).

Use scotch tape to join the top (nose edge) and the bottom (chin edge).

cut away the small corners.

cut away the small corners.

you have now a full size paper simulator of the Petit mask. Open up the paper mask and try it on your children's face.

you have now a full size paper simulator of the Petite mask. Open up the paper mask and try it on your children’s face!

If the paper mask is too big, cut away the first line near to the chin-edge. Put it on the user's face again to test the size.

If the paper mask is too big, cut away the first line near to the chin-edge. Put it on the user’s face again to test the size.

Continue to cut the mask smaller, and test the size. Line by line until you get the mask size fitting your children.

Continue to cut the mask smaller, and test the size. Line by line until you get the mask size fitting your children.

Here showing the situation after the second line is cut away. Suppose this is the size fitting your children.

Here showing the situation after the second line is cut away. Suppose this is the size fitting your children.

Now insert the paper simulator into the middle of the mask. Try to align the red circle with the filter cover.

Now insert the paper simulator into the middle of the mask. Try to align the red circle with the filter cover.

Use the paper dummy as a guide, cut the mask with a pair of scissors. (The simple scissor shown in the photo is very good for cutting Totobobo mask)

Use the paper dummy as a guide, cut the mask with a pair of scissors. (The simple scissor shown in the photo is very good for cutting Totobobo mask)

The final result: a new Petit mask matching the size of your children. You may still need to ReShape the mask to fine tune the seal.

The final result: a new Petite mask matching the size of your children. You may still need to ReShape the mask to fine tune the seal.

 

 

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The protection of a respiratory mask depends on two factors:
1. How good is the air filter and
2. How well the mask is able to seal your face, such that the air you breathe in must go through the filters.

The filters can be tested by reputable laboratory where certified reports are produced. We sent filters to Nelson Labs in USA and the results are published.
However, it is not at all easy for individual user to determine if the mask is really fitting the face completely without any gaps. Totobobo is the only mask in the market provides a simple method, or the “Water Mark check”, to let users ensure the face seal.

Water mark shows poor and good seal before and after ReShape of Totobobo mask.

Water mark shows poor and good seal before and after ReShape of Totobobo mask.

The frost edge of the mask changes to transparent when it touches wet skin. This is called the “water mark”. Followings show a step by step approach to check the seal with the water mark:
– Apply a thin layer of water on the user’s face with cotton wool, especially around the nose bridge and chin area.
– Don the mask and carefully examine the water mark.
– Check if the water mark form a complete, continuous loop encircling the nose, mouth and under the chin, that indicates the mask is making a good seal around your face. The mask is now ready for use.
– If there are patch(s) of frost area breaking up the water-mark-loop, that indicates where the seal breaks and you may need to adjust the mask to improve the seal. There are several things you can do, such as:
1) Adjust the position of the mask. (shift it up and down to find the optimal position)
2) Adjust the tension of the elastic straps (it should be firm, but not too tight)
3) ReShape the mask (use 70°C water or hair dryer, but don’t overheat!)
4) Cut the mask smaller (only when it is really necessary!)

Your mask is ready to give you the best protection when you have a good seal. Do use the water mark method to double check the seal.

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