Oxygen is always in the air even under heavy smoke, the problem is that the air is contaminated by smoke from the forest fire. A good fitting respirator, such as N95 mask, to filter out the smoke particles is a common solution. However, under emergency situation, it may not be possible to distribute N95 masks to all who needs it. Further more, even if the mask is available, it is not easy to ensure it is fitting correctly. A non-fitting N95 mask is not effective.
Here is a simple idea to transform readily available material into an air filter, which is able to filter the air for breathing safely.
To create this DIY air filter, you need a couple of T-shirts and a plastic water bottle plus a couple of strings. Based on our test with a professional machine (Portacount Pro 8038) such DIY filter is able to reduce air pollution up to 40 folds, achieving a filtration efficiency similar to N95 masks. It is capable of bringing down the fine particles (PM2.5, PM10) from super hazardous level (PSI 1000) to moderate (PSI 75).
How to DIY a personal air filter from water bottle and T shirts?
1) Cut some holes in the middle section of a water bottle
2) Fold up and roll a couple of T-shirt around the water bottle. (the one in the following video create 20 layer of fabric)
3) Tight the top and bottom part with a string to seal the gaps
4) suck air from the water bottle.
5) breathing mouth in, nose out.
Polluted air enters the bottle through the many layers of T Shirts material. Most fine particles will be trapped in between the many (20+) layers of fabric. We measured with a professional machine and the pollution can be reduced by 40 times (97.5% filtration efficiency). This is equals to bring the PSI down from 1000 to 75, a substantial improvement of air quality from readily available material on hand.
If you feel this idea is useful for someone you know, please share. Here is link to a PDF file for printing to share: water-bottle-air-filter. If you have more ideas or suggestions, please let me know in the comment as well.
Note: The idea of DIY water bottle air filter has been demonstrated in our Lab in Singapore to show that it is effective to cut down air pollution. However different fabric material has different filtration characteristic. This idea has not been certified by any authority. User agree to take own responsibility for the use of the idea.
How is it possible for Totobobo filters to filter out sub-micron particles?
This is an important question because sub-micron particles ( eg.PM2.5 ) contained in polluted air is the major health concern. The secret of Totobobo filters is the high intensity static charges on each fiber which made up the filter matrix. When you breathe in, airborne particles follow the air and pass through the filter matrix. Fine particles are very susceptive to the static charges and therefore most of them eventually are 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 a microscope it shows how small particles are attached to the filter fibers.
These capture, or filtration mechanisms is described as follows:
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 cause 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 into 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.
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, posts the following picture on her Instagram and Facebook.
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:)
Mr. Richards is a Triathlete, trying and trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. He advocates 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 results speak for itself – you don’t want this stuff, such as PM2.5, 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.
Former CCTV anchor Chai Jing released 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) :
Our recent news about Petit mask make it’s way to Reuters. Interesting!
SINGAPORE, Feb. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — India air took 6 hours off Mr. Obama’s life during his 3 days visit to New Delhi last week according to The Hill (27, Jan. 2015). Similar to many other big cities in Asia, New Delhi has high concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or PM2.5, which is known to cause lung cancer, heart attacks and various respiratory diseases.
Air pollution can be a real concern if you are traveling with children to cities with poor air quality, because children’s lungs are not fully developed and are more susceptive to the harmful effect of PM2.5, according to WHO.
Singapore based company Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for children and women. The new “Petit” mask comes with an innovative approach to ensure a good seal between the mask and the user’s face.
Quality of the face seal is essential for protection against airborne pollutants. However, this factor is often overlooked due to lack of accurate method to check the seal. A study of 1500 fit-tests of 500 N95 masks on 50 participants by Tongji Medical College (China), discovered that over 90% failed the fit-test due to poor face seal. This suggests over 90% of the time, consumer may not be getting the expected protection from N95 masks due to poor seal.
The Petite mask came with a simple “Check & Seal” system to address the face seal issue:
1) A patented method to check the face seal, called “Watermark Seal Check”.
2) A “ReShape” feature which allows the user to close any gaps by heat-moulding the mask.
3) In case “ReShape” alone is not sufficient to close the gaps, user may trim the mask to fit smaller children.
Compares with the original Totobobo mask, the Petit is softer and more comfortable. Beta tester, Miss Hu Xiao Fei from Beijing China, commented in China’s micro blog 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!”
Hopefully this small mask will provide some relief for families traveling to, or living in polluted area.
Children’s lungs are are more susceptive to the harmful effect of airborne particles call PM2.5. Air pollution can be a real concern for children staying in polluted cities such as Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, or Manila.
Singapore based Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for women and children. The new “Petit” mask (TT-02) comes with an innovative system to ensure a good face seal and protection.
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 10 popular models of N95 masks on 50 men and women by Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University in China, discovered that over 90% of the tests failed 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 faceseal.
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.
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!”
More information about the Petit mask can be found from the official website: totobobo.com, or contact us here.
I realised cycling is a cheaper, more reliable and (even) enjoyable mode of transport compared to the unreliable, overcrowded & expensive public transport. I’m least interested in cycling sports, but I’m glad that I made the decision to cycle for my everyday transport.
Adding all the bicycle-related cost (bike, locks, mask, clothes etc. altogether) is equivalent of buying a 4-month travel ticket in London. Even including maintenance cost, I’m financially better-off cycling than using public transport.
Another factor is reliability. Cycling may take a bit longer and require more physical effort, but at least its duration is predictable. Commuting on a public transport is always full of confusion and frustration due to unreliable service and overcrowding. But once I started cycling, to my surprise the whole set of travel-related stress has disappeared and I discovered happier me.
When I started cycling I was scared my socks off for the first 2-3 months, but if you take it as a small adventure for the first time and repeat the route carefully, the nervous excitement will wear off and cycling will become everyday activity after a while.
To cycle safely amongst large vehicles, you just need to know the DOs and DON’Ts around those vehicles. As long as you adhere to it, those big guys won’t harm you. If you respect other general traffic rules, the motorists will respect your presence in return. You cycle alone but you share the space with everyone else.
How is your experience of using Totobobo mask in London?
I use Totobobo mask all the time as I cycle everywhere in London.
Since I began commuting to the centre of London where traffic pollution is worst, I started using double 96% filter for my mask.
With single filter I get discomfort in my throat after every journey because of the heavy traffic, but with double filter I can clearly feel the improvement. Previously I keep producing small amount of sputum for a couple of hours after every journey, whereas with double filter, I don’t get that ‘ahem…ahem, ahem…’ phase, virtually none.
Obviously using double filter limits my inhalation, but I’m happy to take this trade-off for greatly reducing discomfort caused by pollution.
I have been using double filter nearly every day for about 4 months, and so far there’s no lasting respiratory impact, only short period of breathlessness immediately after a journey.
With the mask, I’m more willing to travel longer distance without worrying about the level of pollution, it also allows me to cycle safely as I’m not compelled to move away from the rear of a vehicle when it is unsafe to do so.
I do intensive exercise regularly so I know my respiration capacity is stronger than the average person, but I’m also aware that there might be a long term negative impact of having double filter.
(Note: Double layer of filter may cause discomfort and can be damaging for special group of user. Consult your doctor before applying double filter on your mask.)
Have you tried other brands (of mask) before?
No, but other products didn’t look so air-tight while Totobobo taking less space to carry around. Other product looked either too elaborate or too flimsy. Totobobo seemed to me hitting the right balance.
The rather clinical look of the mask sometimes raise eyebrows, but I think it’s just an outcome of that famous principle ‘form follows function’.
If you’ve ever been riding in traffic and wondered “is this car exhaust bad for me?” you’re not alone… and yes, it is. I went on a search for a good air pollution mask that would work with my cycling glasses and helmet and found a few good options. I even invented one of my own. My favorite is the Totobobo from Singapore.
I’m not a man to give reviews very easily, unless it was bad… or spectacularly amazing. And this one is it, amazing. I’m talking about the Totobobo Mask, of course.
After a few years of use, it was about time I had written something more significant.
My Criterias: Light, Not hot, breathes easy, and non invasive
When I was still working in South Korea, spring time was also a time for a phenomenon called “Yellow Dust“. Fine particles of sand specs picks up from the Gobi desert, collects air pollution as it travels through China and then dumps it in Korea. This can also last throughout the summer. Needless to say, I got sick a lot during the spring. Finally, I had enough and decided to look for a good mask. My criteria was that 1) Was light 2) Not hot 3) Breathes really easily 4) Non-invasive
You can rock climb with it!
After searching awhile online, reading reviews, I found that most other masks were lacking in atleast one of these criterias. Some were made of neoprene, some were “good” but once the filter goes on, it’s very hard to breath, and some were just a huge thing in your face. Just as I was about to give up, I found Totobobo Mask.
They matched all my criteria.
This mask is incredibly light. You can even mash it up, fold it in your pocket and carry it around with you. No harm will come to this mask.
Despite scorching 36 degrees and 110% humidity, the mask doesn’t make it any hotter when you breath into it. Ok, a little bit, but despite that I’m a sweaty guy, (I use a sweat band that channels sweat instead of a sweat absorber in high cardio exercises in the summer) the mask doesn’t really make that much of a difference.
Yeah, as I said, I do lots of sports outdoors. And so breathing hard into this mask is no problem. The air flow doesn’t really slow down. It does a bit, but not that significant.
Once I got it, I started wearing it riding my bike to work. And wouldn’t you know, I didn’t sound like someone who had been smoking for 10 years and you can see the physical debris of dirt that gets caught up in the filters. Not only do I ride my bike with it to work, I also rock climbed with it. It never got in the way.
After using it for biking and rock climbing, I had brought it to India and Nepal. Even just sitting in the rickshaws in Nepal for 20 minutes, I had realized my mask is completely filthy and needed a filter change. With good foresight, I had bought a lot of filters.
Some other cool features?
How good are these filters? Well, if you don’t know what N95 is, that is pretty much the standard for “The American National Standard for Air Purifying Respiratory”. This means it filters out practically every airborne pollution, which refers to 95% of the pollution. Also, I ended up getting N96 filters too!
Changeable filters, renewable everything! Less waste!
Unlike other masks where you have to throw out the entire thing and get a new one, Totobobo only throws out the filters. This produces a lot less garbage and being environmentally aware, I feel a lot less guilty doing this. To be honest, I didn’t think this was a thing I’d really like about it, but it has grown on me. Recently doing lots of construction work, I’ve been throwing out and purchasing a lot more face masks than I feel was necessary. This changed everything
In a nutshell
Get it. My lungs and health significantly got better, you can see the pollution being filtered out, it’s not invasive, not hot, light, easy to wear and reusable. There are so many pro’s about this one filter! I’m very happy with it and you should totally get one, by clicking right here!