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We got asked this question a lot:

How is it possible for Totobobo filters to filter out sub-micron particles?

This is an important question because sub-micron particles contains in polluted air is a major health concern. The secrete of Totobobo filters is the high intensity static charges on each fiber which made up the filter matrix. When you breath in, the airborne particles follows the air and passes through the filter matrix. Fine particles are very susceptive to the static charges and therefore most of them eventually attracted onto the filter fibers. In fact, Nelson Lab test shows Totobobo F96 filter is able to cut down 99.86% of 0.1 microns particles. Under the microscope it shows how the small particles are attached to the filter fibers.

totobobo-filter-03b-800

Fig. 1  Fine particles, size range from tenths of microns down to 0.1 microns are attracted to the fibers as they pass through the complex matrix of the Totobobo filter.

totobobo-filter-02-800

Fig. 2 100X magnification view of a needle (0.6mm thickness) and filter fiber.

Totobobo filter with a needle of 0.6mm thickness

Fig. 3    Totobobo filter with a needle of 0.6mm thickness

 

Quoted from the NIOSH Science Blog below:

http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2009/10/14/n95/

How do filters collect particles?

These capture, or filtration, mechanisms are described as follows:

Diagram illustrating the filtration mechanisms of inertial impaction, interception, diffusion, and electrostatic attraction. In each case, fibers are shown filtering particles.

  • Inertial impaction: With this mechanism, particles having too much inertia due to size or mass cannot follow the airstream as it is diverted around a filter fiber. This mechanism is responsible for collecting larger particles.
  • Interception: As particles pass close to a filter fiber, they may be intercepted by the fiber. Again, this mechanism is responsible for collecting larger particles.
  • Diffusion: Small particles are constantly bombarded by air molecules, which causes them to deviate from the airstream and come into contact with a filter fiber. This mechanism is responsible for collecting smaller particles.
  • Electrostatic attraction: Oppositely charged particles are attracted to a charged fiber. This collection mechanism does not favor a certain particle size.

In all cases, once a particle comes in contact with a filter fiber, it is removed from the airstream and strongly held by molecular attractive forces. It is very difficult for such particles to be removed once they are collected. As seen in Figure 2, there is a particle size at which none of the “mechanical” collection mechanisms (interception, impaction, or diffusion) is particularly effective. This “most penetrating particle size” (MPPS) marks the best point at which to measure filter performance. If the filter demonstrates a high level of performance at the MPPS, then particles both smaller AND larger will be collected with even higher performance.

This is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of filter performance and bears repeating. Filters do NOT act as sieves. One of the best tests of a filter’s performance involves measuring particle collection at its most penetrating particle size, which ensures better performance for larger and smaller particles. Further, the filter’s collection efficiency is a function of the size of the particles, and is not dependent on whether they are bio aerosols or inert particles.

Graph showing a filter's efficiency on the Y-axis and particle diameter in microns along the X-axis. Efficiency falls in the 'Diffusion and Interception Regime'.

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Totobobo winter collection

This “Winter collection” is not a fashion series, but the collection of used Totobobo filters throughout the last winter in Beijing, China.

Danni Moody, an English teacher living in Beijing, post the following picture on her Instagram and Facebook.

Danni Moody photo of used Totobobo filters over the winter of 2014 in Beijing.   Photo credit: Danni Moody at Junkateer

Danni Moody photo of used Totobobo filters over the winter of 2014 in Beijing. Photo credit: Danni Moody at Junkateer

From Danni Moody:

I’ve lived in Beijing teaching English for 1 year. I ordered my Totobobo in November when the pollution starting getting bad. The pollution is much worse in winter which is 5-6 months long here. 9 out of 10 days in winter are heavily polluted. There were days where the tops of apartment buildings couldn’t be seen because the pollution was so bad. Totobobo is the first mask I’ve used and I love it! I like that I can see the change in the filters as they collect the pollution. I wear it to and from work, about an hour each day and I change the filters twice a week. I decided to save my used filters from winter and take a photo of them when Spring started. It’s scary to see that all of that gunk could’ve been in my lungs if I didn’t have my Totobobo mask! The only downside to these plastic masks is the condensation that accumulates inside of it, but I will still use Totobobo despite that:)

Thank you Danni for the cool pic!

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G.Richerds-filters-1

Mr. Richards is a Triathlete, trying and trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. He advocate for clean air after seeing how quickly his Totobobo filters turn into dark grey from pristine white just after a few rides to work.

I was shocked when received the used filter from G. Richards. He collected the used filters last year and the result speak for itself – you don’t want this stuff get into your lungs!

For those curious, here are some details of Mr. Richards’ Bike2Work route:

From February to July, 2014, from Leinster Gardens, across Hyde Park and finished at the other side of River Theme. A 35 minutes cycling each way.

From July to December 2014, from Leinster Gardens to Hanover Park, 20 minutes each way.

Mr. Richards found that his right-side filter alway turns darker than his left-side filter, because he rides close to the curb and traffic is always on his right. Each pairs of filters were used for two weeks for riding to and from work.

G.Richards-filters-2 G.Richards-filters-3

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Former CCTV anchor Chai Jing release her documentary “Under the Dome” which is all about air pollution in China last week. She asked the following questions in the 104 minutes video report:

What is haze?

Where does it come from?

What can we do?

Within 24 hours of its release, it had over 100 million views online. Over the weekend, it had over 150 million views. This is quickly become the most impactful report and hopefully helping to shape the opinions and future energy policy regarding pollution and emission.
The documentary is now available in youtube (translation is being made through crowd-sourcing effort) :

more information at upworthy: http://www.upworthy.com/everyone-waited-for-it-to-be-taken-down-150-million-views-later-its-still-up-watch-it-here?c=ufb0

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Totobobo news features on Reuters

Our recent news about Petit mask make it’s way to Reuters.  Interesting!

Totobobo featured in Reuters News.

Totobobo featured in Reuters News.

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Planning to travel to China or India?  Air pollution can be a real concern if you are traveling with kids to cities such as Beijing in China, or Delhi in India, because children’s lungs are more susceptive to the harmful effect of airborne particles call PM2.5.

Singapore based Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for women and children. The new “Petit” mask comes with an innovative system to ensure a good seal between the mask and the user’s face.

Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system

Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system

Quality of the face seal is essential for the effectiveness of protection against air pollution such as PM2.5. However, it is often overlooked due to lack of simple and accurate method to check the seal. A study of 1500 fit-tests of 500 N95 masks on 50 Chinese by Tongji Medical College,  Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, discovered that over 90% failed the fit-test due to poor face seal. This suggests at consumer level, over 90% of the time, even a certified N95 mask may fail to provide the expected protection due to poor face  seal.

Totobobo UNIFit system addresses the important issue of face seal with “Check & Seal” approach: 

1) An easy and accurate method to check the face seal, called “Watermark Seal Check”.

2) A “ReShape” feature which allows the user to shape the mask to close any gaps identified by the Watermark Seal Check.

3) A “Cut to size” feature which allows user to trim the mask to fit small children, in case ReShape alone is not sufficient to close the gaps.

“In addition to better fit and better protection, the UNIFit system also results in more comfortable wearing mask.” said the inventor Francis Chu, who has 20 years professional experience in product design.

Woman wearing Petit mask

Woman wearing the Petit mask. One can easily check the seal through the transparent mask.

A boy wearing Petit mask (customised to size)

A boy wearing Petit mask (trimmed to size)

Compares with the original Totobobo mask, the Petit is smaller, softer and more comfortable. Early Petit mask tester, Miss Hu Xiao Fei from Beijing China,  commented in Weibo:

“When I put on the new Petit mask, I was amazed! It fits so well all around my face, there is nothing I can say. I just love it!”

It looks like this small mask is going to be a big hit!

There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China

There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China

More information about the Petit mask can be found from the official website: totobobo.com, or contact us here.

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Totobobo Petit (kid)

The Petit is a smaller version of the original Totobobo mask and is specially designed for ladies and children with smaller face sizes. Similar to the original Totobobo mask, the Petit comes with many important features of the original Totobobo mask, including easy and reliable seal check, which is the world’s first.

What are the important features we keep in the new Totobobo Petit model?

– Water-mark seal-check (Water mark seal check)
– ReShape the mask with hot water or hair dryer , to optimise fit to individual
– Can be trimmed to fit smaller face sizes (sometimes down to three years old)
– Adjustable straps for security and comfort
– High performance filters, easy to breathe
– Essential packaging, minimum impact to environment

Totobobo Petit (lady)

While inheriting the advantage of the original Totobobo mask, the Petit added the following improvements:

– Smaller size, fits most female and teenagers without trimming
– Softer mask body, more comfortable
– More secure filter cap
– Bigger effective filter area, even less breathing resistance than previous
– Includes an adaptor to convert earloop to head strap

In terms of operation, nearly all user instruction are the same as previous, except how to remove and replace the filter. Here is a video showing how to do it:

How to remove the filter:

How to install new filter:

For readers from China, please click here

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How long does the Totobobo filter last?

This is a frequently asked question, but there is no standard answer.

The simple answer:

Change the filters when the color of the filters changed to 50% grey as shown in the filter package, or

Change the filters after 2 weeks of starting using it, even if the color has not changed so much.

The long answer:

The effective duration of the filter is heavily dependant on environmental factors and usage patterns. For example:

– Where is the filter being used? Outdoors or indoors?

– Is the air pollution level very high when you use the filter?

– Are you using it all day long, or just during your commute?

– Are you using it for exercising, such as running or cycling, or while you are driving?

– Are you using it while handicrafting? such as wood turning?

– Is the user a big man, or a small child?

All the factors mentioned about can affect the effective duration of the filters. If you are a big guy use the filter mask outdoors for exercise, your filters will last a lot shorter than a small boy using the same filter mask mainly indoors.

Since it is not possible to give an accurate answer for the effective time duration, we instead suggest the following, for maximum protection:

1) Change the filters when they reach a 50% gray color (as shown in the filter package).

2) Maximum usage duration is 2 weeks since first use of the new pair of filters, even if they have not reached the 50% gray color.

You may ask, why 50% gray and not 40% or 60%? And why 2 weeks, not 4 weeks?

To be honest, we are also not sure! But we’ve done tests and we feel comfortable with the above recommendation, knowing that the filters are still sufficiently effective at 50% gray and after 2 weeks since first use.

Below is an experiment to find out the remaining effectiveness of a pair of filters after two weeks of use, after accumulating enough pollutant to turn it into a 50% gray.

50% grey filter matching the color on the filter package

50% gray filter matching the color on the filter package

Filter preparation:

1) Attach a pair of filters to a box fan, drawing air continuously through the filters until it changes to 50% gray (matching the picture on the filter package).

2) Insert the filter to a Totobobo mask, and ensure the watermark seal check shows the mask fits well on the user’s face.

Respirator test with 50% gray filters:

We then conduct an NIOSH standard fit test for N95 mask.

Test setup with TSI PortaCount Pro 8083 respirator fit tester

Test setup with TSI PortaCount Pro 8083 respirator fit tester

Test result:

The test result is a marginal pass (Fit-factor = 100) for NIOSH N95 standard. Converting this result to filtration efficiency as following:

Filtration Efficiency = (1- 1/Fit-factor)% = (1- 1/100)% = 99%

This is not as impressive as a new pair of filters which is usually able to achieve a Fit-factor of 130+ , but it still provides sufficient protection for pollutant protection purposes.

Test result, Fit-Factor = 100

Test result, Fit-factor = 100

 

 

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The quality of protection against PM2.5 is highly depends on how well a mask is sealing your face. Through the transparent body of Totobobo mask, you are able to determine the quality of the seal by checking the “watermark”. If necessary, you can Reshape the mask to improve the seal. Below is a short video showing how to ReShape a mask by a hair dryer.

* Alternative: ReShape Totobobo mask with Hot and Cold water
http://totobobo.com/blog/2013/08/heat-moulding-totobobo-mask-to-optimize-protection-and-comfort/

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Totobobo demo in Beijing and Shanghai

Swanport cafe in Soho Galaxy at Chaoyang, Beijing

Swanport cafe in Soho Galaxy at Chaoyang, Beijing

Muren of Totobobo Tmall share a presentation about PM2.5

Muren of Totobobo Tmall share a presentation about PM2.5

Francis shared his story about Totobobo mask

Francis shared his story about Totobobo mask, Robin from Totobobo Tmall is providing realtime translation

2014-09-16 Swanport Cafe, Chaoyang District, Beijing

The demo in Beijing was a great success on a Tuesday evening, thanks to Robin and Muren from Totobobo Beijing and the helpful staff from Swan Port Cafe. The session started off with a brief introduction of PM2.5 by Muren, he explained what PM2.5 is, and how it affects our health. Francis, the designer of Totobobo mask, shared how he came up with the idea of a customizable and reusable respirator mask out of the SARS crisis in 2003. The fit-test demo started after a short tea break.

What is “Fit-test”? Why it is important?

Fit-testing is a procedure to determine if a tight seal can be achieved when the user don a respirator mask. This is important because the quality of the seal affects the overall protection against PM2.5 and other airborne contamination. In fact, the NIOSH N95 standard requires a proper fit-test to be conducted before anyone starts using a respirator for the first time. During the fit-test, a particle counting instrument is used to accurately measure respirator fit by comparing the particle concentration in the surrounding air with the particle concentration inside the respirator. The ratio of these concentrations is called the Fit-factor (FF). For N95 mask, a minimum Fit-factor of 100 is required in order to pass the fit test.

Fit factor formular

Fit factor formular

TSI Portacount is the best fit-testing machine in the world. (US Army recently purchased 65 sets of the same TSI Portacount fit-tester http://itbriefing.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=571559)

The working principle of the PortaCount 8083 is straight forward: there are two flexible tubes coming out of the machine, one is to draw the air and measure the concentration of particles inside the mask. The second tube is open ended and is used to measure the particle concentration in the surrounding area. The PortaCount fit-tester calculates the particle concentration inside and outside of the mask and report the ratio, or the Fit-factor, in realtime. The higher the Fit-factor, the better is the protection effect of the mask. With the Portacount machine, Francis was able to demonstrate quantitatively how the quality of the seal and the filters can have a great impact on the protection effectiveness of a respirator.

Preparing for the test

Francis exchange ideas with the VIPs.

Francis exchange ideas with the VIPs.

Before the fit-test, a “Daily check” on the machine was performed to assure that the ambience air quality is suitable for the test and the machine is in proper operation condition. Amongst the audience, there were members from the China Consumer Association (中国消费者协会), National labor supplies Quality Supervision and Inspection Center (Beijing) 国家劳保用品质量监督检验中心(北京), Austria Embassy, TimeOut Beijing,  Aqicn.org and members of the public to monitor the entire process of the fit-test demo.

Fit test demo with PortaCount professional fit-tester

Faye testing Totobobo mask

Faye testing Totobobo mask

The perfect shape for Faye

The perfect shape for Faye

Fit-factor is only 3.3, the result of the cosmetic cotton pad is not convincing

Fit-factor is only 3.3, the result of the cosmetic cotton pad is not convincing

The first Fit-test of Totobobo mask was performed on Faye, a Chinese lady with a slender face shape. Francis first tested a pair of “fake filters” made of cosmetic cotton pad. The “fake filters” looks nearly the same as the original, but the resulting Fit-Factor is only 3.3 which means on a day with AQI 500, the cotton pad can ideally bring it down to 150, just not good enough. After changing into a pair of F96 filters, the Fit-factor shoot up to 150+. In AQI 500 day, ideally it can bring it down to 4-, better than the air you will get in Switzerland!

The Fit-factor shoot up to 150+ after changing into a pair of F96 filters

The Fit-factor shoot up to 150+ after changing into a pair of F96 filters

The second participant was a young girl (Guo Yao) with a fuller face. Francis first conduct the test with the same Totobobo mask without modification. The water-mark-method shown that the seal was not perfect and the initial result was relatively low (below 50). However, after Reshape the mask with a hair-dryer and after a good water-mark is obtained, the Fit-factor reported by the Portacount machine come up to 200+.

The perfect shape to fit  Guo Yao after ReShaping the mask

The perfect shape to fit Guo Yao after ReShaping the mask

Guo Yao received a new Totobobo mask from Sharon, Managing Director of Totobobo mask.

Guo Yao received a new Totobobo mask from Sharon, Managing Director of Totobobo mask.

Francis using the "Water-mark" method to predict the fitting of the mask

Francis using the “Water-mark” method to predict the fitting of the mask

Francis also demonstrated the effect of good and poor seal, by the “water mark method”. He applied a bit of water around the nose bridge area. When the matt color mask surface touching the wet skin, it changes to transparent (water-mark).

Barbara testing Totobobo mask

Barbara testing Totobobo mask

The third participant was Barbara Grosse from the Austria Embassy. It took Francis few rounds of ReShaping the mask in order to obtain a good water-mark seal. The final Fit-factor was also in the range of 150~200+. All three ladies passed with a clear margin from the minimum requirement of 100 (for N95 mask).

Fit-test demo based on only three users is obviously not statistically sound. However, we have done this nearly a hundred times privately and this is the first time we perform the fit-test in front of a public group.

After Beijing, we went to Shanghai ArtBike to conduct another fit-test demo with their customers. We came to similar observation as in Beijing.

Fit-test at ArtBike, Shanghai

Fit-test at ArtBike, Shanghai

 

Some interesting facts we can draw from all the fit-tests:

1. Totobobo mask can be ReShaped to fit a wide range of face shapes.

  • The same Totobobo mask was used through out the fitting on all three ladies, with significantly different face shapes and all managed to obtain high Fit-factors above 150.
  • Many more fit-tests on different users shows the ReShape function can be applied to a wide range of users.

2. The “Water mark” method is reliable to help ensure face fit and protection.

  • There was a strong correlation between the water-mark-method and the PortaCount results
  • When the water-mark method showed the seal was not perfect, the corresponding Fit-factor dropped  to below 50 and sometimes down to single digit value.
  • When a clear water mark was formed around the nose bridge and the face, the corresponding Fit-factor shot up to 150+

3. Overall protection against PM2.5 require good quality filter AND a good face-mask seal

  • When cosmetic cotton pad is used in place of the Totobobo filters, the Fit-factor dropped to only 3.3.
  • When the water-mark shows there is a leak between the mask and the face, the Fit-factor dropped to below 50 and sometime single digit.
  • The resulting Fit-factor is consistently good (150+) when Totobobo filter is used and the water mark result is positive.

Above points 1&2 are the strengths and the weaknesses of Totobobo mask, ReShape (and cutting) makes Totobobo mask the most versatile solution to fit a wide range of users, including children and adult. But ReShaping and cutting the mask is more complicated than bending a metal nose clip. With the “Water mark” fit-test method, you can be sure that when the water mark seal up your nose and mouth, the mask is giving you high level of protection. In contrary, ensuring face-seal is much more tricky for many popular masks on the market, as a detail research concluded by Tongji Medical College (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China) suggested: Fitting Characteristics of N95 Filtering-Facepiece Respirators Used Widely in China . 8 out of 10 popular mask can only fit less than 10% of the 54 Chinese test subjects.

On the other hand, these two features are the limiting factors for Totobobo mask to gain certification approval. It is confirmed that the current testing protocol does not allow  mask samples to be reshaped,  cut, or perform a water-mark check before the fit. These may well be the reasons why Totobobo mask did not perform well in the published review of 37 masks by Chinese Consumer Association earlier this year. Obtaining the certification is an important step for marketing purposes, but for now we put our focus on the practical protection that can be measured by the professional fit-testing machine (PortaCount 8083).

 

Related links:

Beijing TimeOut

Totobobo Fit-test demo on Weibo (1)

Totobobo Fit-test demo on Weibo (2)

Testing Totobobo mask with Portacount 8083 (video of entire process)

How to ReShape Totobobo mask?

 

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