Jean-Francois Monin riding with totobobo mask in Beijing

Jean-Francois Monin riding with totobobo mask in Beijing

Jean-Francois Monin lives in Beijing who bikes a lot and has been using a Totobobo mask since 2010. After one year, the strap was broken too many times and he needs to order replacement. “My earloop is broken in at least 4 places — I should have ordered earlier in fact. It seems that the duration of an earloop is roughly a year.” Said Jean-Francois. He used a Classic Totobobo at the beginning and afterwards changed to Earloop version because he found that it fits better. We took the opportunity to interview him about his experience of using Totobobo mask for cycling in Beijing. Here is the full interview:

1) Why do you like to cycle in Beijing?
I like to cycle in Beijing because it is the most eco-friendly and most predictable transportation mode. It is the fastest for short distances (< 4km)

Compared to other mode of transportation, bicycle is as fast as the subway and cars, and faster than bus on longer distances (up to 15 – 20 km).
By experience, I was often faster than people using other transportation means. I think that electric bikes (very common in Beijing) are faster, but they are a bit more expensive; and then you are more incline to use roads with heavy traffic where air pollution is worst.

The problems of other transportation modes are the following:
- Buses suffer from waiting time and depend on traffic.
- Subway is not very frequent and waiting time can be very long in some situations.
- Cars? parking issues and traffic is unpredictable, and sensibly more expensive.
- Taxis? You may have to wait, and traffic is unpredictable.

However cycling has a couple of drawbacks: namely road danger and air pollution. You need to understand the local traffic culture, which is very different from France for instance. To cut down the pollution I use a Totobobo mask.

2) Is there any reason that makes you feel needing a pollution mask?
Before (having a mask): I discussed with friends and became aware of pollution issues.
Now (having used a mask for 1 year): the change of color makes it clear that it is actually useful!

Totobobo filters after one week of cycling in Beijing

3) Have you tried other mask before?

4) What do you like about the Totobobo mask?
Efficient, light, easy to wash and change filters.

5) How often do you use the mask?
Every day, at least twice, often 4 times

6) Where would you like to see improvement of Totobobo mask?
Sometimes I have to remove the mask from nose and mouth for a few minutes, I’d like to do it conveniently, without stopping (I often use my 2 hands in this operation or the converse one — installing the mask on my face again, hence have to cycle without hands, which may a little bit dangerous).
Another suggestion is for the Totobobo website: it says very few about matrix filters. I tried to find independent information about zeolite and decided to test matrix. More precise explanations and evidence about the efficiency of this product would really be welcome on your website.

7) Will you recommend Totobobo mask to others?


We like to thankJean-Francois Monin for sharing his experience and ideas so generously.

What Ross has to said about SuperCool?
Protect your lungs when riding in the city
More advanced features of TOTOBOBO mask
How to customize TOTOBOBO mask to fit your face?

12 useful features for cyclist
How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?


SuperCool pollution mask helps cyclist and motorcyclist to fight traffic fume

SuperCool pollution mask helps cyclist and motorcyclist to fight traffic fume

Cyclists and Motorcyclists! If you are looking for a pollution mask that really sucks, your long awaiting search has come to an end. The new pollution mask from TOTOBOBO, called SuperCool mask, is designed to suck more, traffic fume that is leaving only the clean air for your lung. Its high efficient filter keeps the nasty nano-particles out and doesnt diminish the oxygen you pull in with each breath.

The SuperCool is the worlds first pollution mask with the nose uncovered. Such unexpected feature brings surprising advantages. First of all, exhaling through the nostrils will never fog up your glasses. Having the nose free means you can clear your nose while protecting your lungs a necessary edge when racing traffic or just cruising through town. according to Francis Chu, a cyclist and the designer of SuperCool. You can even switch between nose and mouth breathing instantly when riding through alternate clean and polluted area no need to stop to remove or put on the mask.

Whereas other masks require intense scrubbing to keep them clean, the TOTOBOBO can be washed and dried within minutes. Your breathing gear will no longer have a funky film of week-old bacteria. Even if you do, the SuperCool is easier to clean than the dishes in your sink. The rest of your cycling gear can be smelly and gross, but at least the one that covering your face should be kept cleanand odor free. Oh, and germs? No worries. The SuperCool is embedded with anti-microbial Silver ion inside out so nothing can grow on it.

The SuperCool mask is customizable to fit your face as need be. This helps to keep the best fit and seal. It also prevents your roommate or sibling from borrowing it and getting it covered in their germs.

The only way the TOTOBOBO SuperCool doesnt suck is the SSS-look – Sleek, Slick and Slim, a far cry from other protective masks which look like the gear of a Storm-trooper from Star Wars. The SuperCool is small enough to fold into your pocket and weighs next to nothing (18 grams). It will slide under any helmet and leave plenty of rooms for glasses or goggles.

Best of all, the TOTOBOBO SuperCool mask is reusable, just replacing the filters as it turns grey. The SuperCool mask and filter are now available at You will even get a free reusable pouch for carrying the mask!

About Totobobo:
Totobobo is the world’s first customizable respiratory mask designed to fit both adults and children. It has been sold to over 35 countries. Totobobo mask uses patented technology that ensures comfort and good protection from pollutants.
Totobobo is a trade mark of Dream Lab One Pte. Ltd.

What Ross has to say about Totobobo mask?

Protect your lungs when riding in the city

More advanced features of TOTOBOBO mask

How to customize TOTOBOBO mask to fit your face?

12 useful features for cyclist

How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?



Dear EarthTalk: I ride my bike to work along busy urban streets. Should I be worried about inhaling pollutants from vehicle emissions and other sources?

– J. Kaufman, San Francisco, CA
Aside from the obvious physical safety considerations (especially when talking on a cell phone!), biking on highly trafficked roads exposes riders to considerable amounts of fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds spewing out of tailpipes

Aside from the obvious physical safety considerations (especially when talking on a cell phone!), biking on highly trafficked roads exposes riders to considerable amounts of fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds spewing out of tailpipes.

The short answer is, yes, probably. Cars, trucks and buses emit considerable amounts of airborne pollution as they make their ways along city streets and highways. The fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) spewing out of tailpipes have been linked to a wide range of human health problems, from headaches to respiratory illness to cancer. Though Australian researchers found that exposure to these pollutants is actually higher while riding inside a vehicle than while riding a bike, turning your handlebars in the direction of back roads might still be a good idea, for safetys sake as well.
Western Washington University Geophysicist Bernie Housen, concerned about the air quality on his own bicycle commute along busy Bellingham roads, recently launched a study of the magnetism in local trees to gauge air quality along his route and elsewhere in his region. The magnetism in a trees leaves is created by tiny particles of iron oxides and other pollutants that drift through the air, emanating primarily from eroding vehicle brake pads and diesel exhaust. The particles are small enough to pass through our nasal passages and get lodged in our lungs. Housen and his colleagues found 10 times as much magnetism on urban roadside tree leaves as on their rural counterparts that contend with little traffic.

Housen has also altered his own bike route to campus to avoid the more polluted thoroughfares. One underlying concern is that if you are riding your bike, you are being more physically active; you are breathing deeper and breathing more air in, and so if you are doing that in an area where there is a concentrated elevation of this material it might not be such a good thing, he added.

Ironically, many cities that offer dedicated bike lanes often lay them out right next to busy bus lanes, unintentionally ensuring that bicyclists breathe in as much diesel exhaust as possible. I ride along one of these high-traffic bus routes, Housen says, and there was between two and five or six times more magnetic fine particulate matter along the bus route than [on less-busy streets]. Housen would like to expand his research so it could be used by urban planners to better design bike and pedestrian routes so as not to intermingle so much diesel transit and pedestrian/bicycle traffic.

Of course, there are other ways to track urban pollution levels. In the UK, for instance, researchers from the government-funded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have created the Urban Pollution Monitoring Project, which builds and distributes GPS-enabled mobile pollution sensing systems that can be carried by hand or placed on a bike rack. The group is using data gleaned from the sensors to map where and when pollution levels are at their highest around London and other UK cities, and hopes to use its research to influence the way roads and urban areas are planned in the future as well.

Those who want or need to keep on riding through polluted areas should consider wearing an anti-pollution respiratory mask, many of which can filter out upwards of 95 percent of particulate pollution before it enters the human lung. Some leading manufacturers include Totobobo, G-Flow and Respro.

CONTACTS: Urban Pollution Monitoring Project; Totobobo; G-Flow; Respro.

EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at:

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EARTHTALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit your question at:; or e-mail us at:


“My girlfriend Sarah and I have been using and very much enjoying the anti-pollution Totobobo masks in New Delhi – India. I want to say thanks… The radio taxis here have gone wacko and so we are spending a lot more time in rickshaws. I used to have a very bad cough and had to take allergy medicine but it seems to have resolved itself! no more medicine – no more coughs. ” – Sam

Personal experience is critical for the development of innovative technology. I cycle to work daily, and this allows me opportunity to test a number of different safety masks. These provide me with first hand evaluation of products from a cyclists perspective. Gathering input from other cyclists and working with their feedback helps take into account alternative climates and riding issues. All in all, I have found that the demands of a cyclist are many and, at times, contradictory. Here are a few:

Breathing versus Protection:
Cyclists need to breathe heavily, but the resistance through a protective filter can uncomfortable and increase strain. A filter with low air resistance would be better, but would be less effective in filtering. Most filters with high protection levels are difficult to breathe through, making finding the goldilocks zone of filtration and breatheability critical.

Heat Dissipation:
In a cycling workout blood is pumped vigorously through the body and heat is generated. A mask that traps heat is a major problem, because it reduces the intake of oxygen and makes breathing more difficult. Unfortunately, most masks on the market are heat-traps.

Easy on, easy off:
If only part of ones commute involves heavy traffic and wearing a mask, why not wear it as needed? A well-designed mask should take this into account. The user should be able to remove and replace the mask with ease while cycling.

Additional weight to carry while riding is a nuisance. Protective masks should be compact and lightweight. This makes bringing the mask and using the mask more likely and easier to do.

But rather than drone on further, let me cut to the chase and explain TOTOBOBOs 12 features relevant to cyclists:

1) Powerful filter: Breathe as easily as not wearing a mask. With the TOTOBOBO filter, air moves freely while still capturing at least 94% of pollutants.

2) Fold flat: Compact and portable, the TOTOBOBO mask is no burden to carry around when not in use. Just fold it up and stick in your pocket.

3) Lightweight: Only 20g, unparalleled among reusable facial protection.

4) Low profile: The mask itself is only .5mm thick, like a second skin over your nose and mouth. It is nonintrusive, and can be worn with glasses or a helmet with no problems.

5) Comfortable strap: Less tension, more comfort. The unique, flexible strap may look flimsy but is surprisingly strong. The mask requires little tension to keep firmly in place with this plastic strap.

6) One hand on/off: With one hand you can take the mask off or put it back on while never stopping the bike.

7) Active valve: The mask acts as a one-way valve; as you breathe, so does the mask.

8) Raised structure: The masks design keeps the filter fibers away from your mouth and nose.

9) Customized fit: One mask fits all. The mask adapts to any face shape or size.

10) Anti-viral: A silver ion anti-viral agent stops any virus from growing on the mask, and lasts as long as the mask does.

11) Washable and reusable: Washable with soap and water. Easy and safe.

12) Transparent: The clear masks allows easy adjustment and checking of an optimal seal.

TOTOBOBO is the most comfortable mask on the market for cyclists, but it is by no means perfect. If you are considering using it, be aware of moisture trapping and potential fogging of your glasses. These can be mitigated by tightening the upper strap and loosening the lower strap, or, when exhaling, closing your mouth to break the seal below the chin, allowing the trapped moisture to escape.

Have you used a TOTOBOBO mask before? Have I missed anything?


Protect your lungs when riding in the city

How to choose a pollution mask for cyclist?

How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?

Beijing: dirty on the outside, clean on the inside?

The Bangalore test

Your masks are very useful in India, thanks!


How to choose a pollution mask for cycling?

October 4, 2008

What are cyclists looking for in a pollution mask?
We have put special consideration to a number of applications when designing TOTOBOBO mask. Following are the list for cyclists.

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Beijing: dirty on the outside, clean on the inside?

June 22, 2008

10 June 2008 Herv Bonnaveira Crossing a megalopolis by bike gives you a good idea of how polluted it is. Arriving in the Chinese capital from the South we followed a long line of thermal power stations and factory chimneys, which turned our totobobo anti-pollution filters black after 6 hours of use. Arriving in the […]

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Cycling through Asia without pollution

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Herve and Goska of Develotour pioneered an interesting way to measure and visualize air pollution. On a yearlong bicycle trek across the continent, the couple traveled through several Asian countries. They visited a number of major Asian metropolises and experienced firsthand their respective air qualities. In each locale they wore TOTOBOBO filtration masks to protect […]

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