Avoiding asthma trigger with a Filter mask

Fitting mask: a just-in-time solution to cut-off air borne asthma triggers

Disclaimer: Asthma triggers are various and depends on patients. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

Many asthmatic patients are given a prescription drug and inhalers to control their asthma condition. While these medications are helpful to control the symptoms of asthma, some patients prefer to limit the use of medicine to avoid potential side effects. Recent research also question the conventional wisdom of using “preventive” drugs to control asthma.

If you belongs to the non-drug camp, you may consider using a fitting face mask to block air-borne asthma trigger “just in time” to prevent it from flare out of control.

Asthma triggers can be broadly divided into 4 categories:
– air borne triggers (irritants, allergens, cold air)
– allergic triggers (non air borne, i.e. cockroaches)
– psychological triggers (stress, strong emotion)
– physiological triggers (exercise, excessive laughing, crying or even sneezing)

Asthma airway

Airway contracted under asthma attack

A great portion of asthma attacks are triggered by air borne stimuli. Triggering stimuli such as irritants, allergens or simply cold air enters the air way (bronchial) causing a strong reaction, inflammation and/or narrowing of the airway tubes that leads to breathing problems. Most asthma attacks are mild, but even people with mild asthma can have a fatal attack. More than 5,000 deaths a year in the USA are attributed to the condition.

TOTOBOBO fits kid TOTOBOBO fits elderly
Perfect face seal is a pre-condition for cutting off air borne triggers

Symptom avoidance is a well know strategy for asthmatics. It is possible to cut off or reduce air borne triggers with a properly fitted filter mask (respirator). However choosing a suitable face mask can be a complicated issue.

There are two types of portable respirators in the market: reusable respirators and disposable respirators. High quality reusable respirator provides a better fit, but it is more bulky and less likely to be carry around, reducing the usefulness. Disposable respirators are more compact but can be easily distorted after use. This can affect the face-fit in subsequent use. Both types of respirators require a “fit-test” by professional to ensure a proper fit. However, it is not possible to conduct a “fit-test” each time when the mask is needed. Therefore the fit quality during use remains as a mystery.

Above dilemma is finally solved by TOTOBOBO mask, in a remarkably simple and intuitive way. First the transparent respirator allows you to see through the mask clearly and decide if the mask fits or not. Such visual check is easy to achieve each time when you need to put on the mask. Secondly, the mask can be trimmed to suit any unique face, including children’s. Finally the high quality reusable mask can be folded flat and fits into a shirt pocket, carry around and ready for the action whenever it is needed.

Currently TOTOBOBO mask is the only solution providing Easy fit-check, Customized fit and “Pocketability”. These are important factors if cutting off air borne triggers is in your plan against asthma attack.

Do consult your physician to come up with an overall plan for your own situation. You may consider TOTOBOBO mask as part of your overall strategy to reduce, but not to replace the use of medicine. A small percentage of patients’ asthma triggered by high moisture air might become worse after putting on a mask.

Below are some of the asthma triggers:

Air borne triggers

• Cigarette smoke
• Air pollution
• Cold air or changes in weather
• Strong odors from painting or cooking
• Scented products
• Animal dander (from the skin, hair, or feathers of animals)
• Dust mites (contained in house dust)
• Cockroaches dropping
• Pollen from trees and grass
• Mold (indoor and outdoor)
Cold air

Allergic triggers (non air borne)

• Cockroaches
• Mold (indoor and outdoor)
• Artificial sweetens
• Animals

Psychological triggers

• Stress
• Threaten
• Anger
• Shock

Physiological triggers

• Exercise
• Laughing
• Crying
• Sneezing


More information:

Detail list of asthma triggers
Asthma may not require daily medication
Studies review: Air filters were associated with significantly lower total symptom


Dr. Anil Simhadri, London, UK (2012)
I am a doctor /physician in the UK at UCL, and bike daily in london to work using totobobo mask. I also suffer from asthma using a ventolin inhaler. I have been using totobobo masks since feb 2010 when I placed my first order and find them very useful. My cycling performance with regard to speed of cycling has improved. Previously I might cycle 6 miles in 1 hour. Now I cycle 6 miles in 50 minutes. The mask helps improve my control of asthma. Asthma is a disease of airway hyper-responsivesness. The tracheal airways are hyper-responsive to various triggers. Pollutants in the air as in inner city london can trigger the airways to constrict or narrow. Totobobo masks prevent these pollutants reaching the airways and so help remove the “trigger” for asthma.

Teresa Lam, Hong Kong (2008)
“After trying the mask for a few weeks, I can say the TOTOBOBO mask does feel very comfortable. I’m quite positive that the mask had helped to reduce my asthma. The masks I used to use were not very air tight so most air I inhale would have gone through the side of the mask instead of any filtering.”


Clearly a Better Way to Check for Safety

The protective function of a respirator mask is based on two functions;
(1) the filter media must let in air but stop harmful and unwanted particles from entering the breathing zone.
(2) the mask must fit the user’s face and form a complete seal so that no air bypasses the filter media and enters the breathing zone directly.

Filter + Face seal = good protection

principle of respiratory mask protection

Modern technology has produced highly efficient filter media that can achieve up to an incredible 99.9% filtration efficiency. Ensuring a secure mask-to-face fit, however, is not nearly as simple. Rarely do users achieve a professional-grade fit, and they are surprised when they do.

Fit-testing is a task that requires a trained professional, special equipment, knowledge and skills, and considerable time. There is QUALITATIVE fit test based on subjective senses of the user, and there is QUANTITATIVE fit test based on objective measurement which compares the particle counts inside and outside of a mask. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that such a fit-test be conducted yearly for each user so as to ensure proper usage. Fit testing can determine if a mask fits the user during the test, but can not tell for sure if the mask still fits the user days or months afterwards. These fit-testing procedures are limited to occupational users and not commonly available. The general public has neither the equipment, nor training, nor expertise, nor regular access to professionals who do in order to conduct professional-grade testing on their protective respiratory masks when they need it.

In a recent study “Respiratory Donning in Post-Hurricane New Orleans” (published on the US CDCwebsite in May 2007), researchers found 76% participants were not able to demonstrate proper donning, resulting in the compromising of their protection. This study group should know a thing or two about proper protective mask use considering the ordeal they went through during the post-Katrina clean-up of New Orleans. Imagine in an emergency situation, what would happen if the public needed to wear respirators to protect themselves? How many of these people will be able to fit their mask properly? Less than 24%, perhaps? CDC has been reluctant to recommend N95 masks for the public use because for 3 out of 4 people the poorly fitted respirator may provide a fault sense of security and encourage risky behavior.
The Prince of Wales Hospital of Hong Kong conducted a study where subjects who had previously passed a fit test were asked to properly don a N95 mask and then check for adequate sealing. These same subjects were then given a TOTOBOBO mask which they have not previous experience and conducted the same test. The results found that although the TOTOBOBO mask performed slightly less than the N95 mask, most test subjects did achieve the appropriate fit and pass the test. How did the non-fit tested Totobobo match the fit-tested N95 mask for this group of users?

Transparent surface indicates good face seal of Totobobo mask

Transparent surface indicates good face seal of Totobobo mask

The TOTOBOBO mask solves the uncertainty about proper fit in a simple but extremely effective way. The transparent mask makes fit checking an easy task. Check around the perimeter of the mask and you can immediately decide if the face seal is good or not. This simplicity, combined with a soft material that comfortably fits your face, makes fitting a lot more intuitive and reliable. Now you can perform a more reliable face-fit check every time before entering a contaminated area. This is certainly more reassuring than relying on once a year fit test.

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