Defeative mask recall

If you purchase a TOTOBOBO mask between September 1st~17th from this site, please check if you have received a defective mask. The problem is the whole filter tend to fall off very easily. It is easy to check: refer to the photo here: try to open up the mask by graping both filters, the mask should be opened without the filter dropping off. If the filter detached from the mask without much force, then the mask is defective. Please contact totobobomask (at) gmail . com to arrange for replacement mask.

We’ve taken immediate steps to correct this problem. Masks purchased after September 17 are free from such defect.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused.

checking if TOTOBOBO mask is defective
Checking if TOTOBOBO mask is defective (view from bottom of the mask)

TOTOBOBO mask in NIOSH site

Totobobo mask was spotted in NIOSH NO-FIT-TEST workshop page    Totobobo mask was spotted in NIOSH NO-FIT-TEST workshop page

I was surpriced when my friend show me this page in CDC site. NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health under CDC, is the US organization who certify the well known N95 mask. What made TOTOBOBO, a little known Singapore invention of respirator mask, appears in this heavy weight website?

No, TOTOBOBO is not certified by NIOSH, at least not yet. The picture of an early version of TOTOBOBO mask found in the NIOSH website is to serve as an inspirational example for a “No Fit Test” filtering facepiece respirator workshop. The workshop will be conducted in Nov. 6 later this year and the objective is:

“To better understand the interdisciplinary research needs and challenges in developing and certifying a universal “no-fit-test” filtering-facepiece respirator”

I think this is totally appropriate and it shows NIOSH recgonize the need to improve the current procedure in order to motivate manufacturers to innovate toward the direction of “No fit test” respirator. 

Why is this big fuss about “No fit Test”?

If you read carefully the fine text of your respirator instruction, you will notice a statement similar to this:

“Before use of this respirator, a written respiratory protection program must be implemented meeting all the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910,134 such as training, fit testing, medical evaluation, and applicable OSHA substance specific standards.” 

The simple fact is, the rated protection value will be drastically reduced if the mask does not fit your face, and there is no other ways to tell except by doing a fit-test. Buying a mask is easy, but getting a mask fit-tested on each individual is a challenge. In emergency situation like flu pandemic or haze outbreak, it is simply not possible to get everyone a fit tested at once. 

One can start to sense the “pain of fit test” and how touchy this issue is from the following comment in one of the NIOSH science blog :

—————————————————–

NIOSH debate how often to fit test
NIOSH debate how often to fit tes

Hopeful to see Fit-Test to be lifted– Edward Hernandez, City of Hialeah, Fire Rescue says:- Thank you for proposing a study as this. For a while now this OSHA (Fit-test) requirement  has been a burden to our Fire/EMS service.

Hopeful to see Fit Test to be simplified-Peggie Reinhardt, RN BSN, says:

I would be interested in this study, we currently fit test our employees annually. If this process could be shortened or redesigned so that it was easier to do would help tremendously.

Fighting to keep Fit-Test in organization– Sgt. Julie Love says:

I would be interested in being part of this study on the law enforcement side. We fit test our officers annually but many departments do not. Law Enforcment traditionally has fallen down in this area as many agencies just give their officers their masks without any fit testing. We also fight the battle with our management with what is mandated.

Worry that No-Fit-Test= Not Safe-Kevin MacDonald says:

 I am concerned that changing the fit test frequency while cost effective may defeat its overall purpose. when fit testing went from every 6 months to one year as a requirement of OSHA it was a step back.

Confused and concern-Kelly Russell says:

I am glad this study is being done. Respiratory fit testing is expensive for employers and it will be good to have a current answer when asked why we have to do the testing so often….or maybe not so often as the case may be.

——————————————————-

No matter what, the setting up of this workshop itself is already a breakthrough, and we are definitively happy to be associate with the solution side of the problem. We hope the result of the workshop will bring more practical innovation into the design and certification of respirator, especially taking people like housewife and children who don’t have access to fit-test equipment but also deserved to have good protection when situation come.

Protect children from cancer causing incense smoke

If you burn incense at home regularly you may be putting your children at a risk of developing cancer or lung problems. TOTOBOBO mask may be the only practical solution for children who cannot avoid exposed to the harmful incense smoke in many Asian cities.

Incense burning smoke

Smoke particles from burning incense were found to cause cancer of the upper respiratory track. A 12 years long “Singapore Chinese Health Study” of more than 61,000 ethnic Chinese adults living in Singapore discovered ‘Among non-smokers who used incense during the day or at all times, the increased cancer risk was three times that of smokers.’ said Prof Koh Woon Puay of National University of Singapore.

Children surgical mask

The best way to avoid such risk is not to burn any joss-stick. However, incense has a significant meaning in the minds of many Asian cultures such as Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist. Mr Chung Kwang Tong, secretary-general of the Taoist Federation Youth Group in Singapore, explained that for Taoists, the smoke from incense is a way of communicating with the deities. Even for those who don’t practice any of these religions, may have inhaled incense smoke involuntary. Children are particularly at risk, there is mounting evidence that exposure to air pollution has long-term effects on lung development in children.

Children wearing N95 mask

If stop burning incense is not an option, then protecting the vulnerable children with a face mask should be the second best option, right? To filter out the harmful smoke effectively, a face mask must produce two conditions simultaneously. First it needs to seal the user’s nose and mouth snugly. Second the filter material must be able to filter out those fine smoke particles. The use of simple surgical mask doesn’t help, as air-leaks are all around the face and smoke can easily by-pass the mask to enter the lung. Upgrade to an N95 respirator can help, only if you have access to a fit-test setup to ensure the mask is making a proper fit. Otherwise, if air-gaps exist in an N95 mask, it makes very little difference from using a cheap surgical mask. Buying an N95 mask is easy, but getting it fit-tested is not. Much to disappointment, there is no N95 mask available for children.

Children wearing Totobobo mask

TOTOBOBO mask can be cut to fit children (and adults), and parents can now fit-check the mask without the need of expensive fit-test equipments. The name TOTOBOBO (totobobo.com) suggests the solutions in Chinese: TOTO (transparent) BOBO (protection for baby). Parents can see through the transparent mask to examine the seal on the children face. We compared the visual fit-check method with a high-end fit-test setup call Porta-Count in hospital. The result shows strong correlation between the visual-check method and the official fit-test. “User seal-check has never been able to reach such accuracy. It is possible to ensure protection by simply looking through the mask.

It looks like TOTOBOBO mask is going to provide the much needed alternative to surgical masks or disposable N95 mask, especially for children suffering from incense smoke or other air pollution.

Does smaller particle always penetrate filters easier?

The TOTOBOBO filters is a type of electrostatic filters which contain electrostatic enhanced fibers. Such fibers actually attract the particles to the fibers, in addition to retaining them. Electrostatic filters rely on charged fibers to dramatically increase collection efficiency for a given pressure drop across the filter.

Common sense would suggest smaller particle always penetrate filter easier. But this is not always, as state in the FAQ of CDC site:

1. How effective are the Part 84 filter respirators against particles smaller than 0.3 micrometer in diameter?

The 0.3-micrometer diameter used in the certification testing is approximately the most penetrating particle size for particulate filters. Although it seems contrary to expectation, smaller particles do not penetrate as readily as 0.3-micrometer particles. Therefore, these respirators will filter all other particle sizes at least as well as the certified efficiency level.

2. How effective are the Part 84 filter respirators against asbestos fibers or other rod-shaped particles?

Although fibers or rod-shaped particles may have very small cross-sectional diameters relative to their lengths, the Part 84 particulate filter respirators will be at least as efficient against this particle shape as the certified efficiency level.

CDC is right, this is contrary to expectation. The reasons is explained in another document in more details. Here is a diagram from pg. 9 of the document showing there are actually four different collection mechanisms govern particulate air filter performance: inertial impaction, interception, diffusion, and electrostatic attraction:

4 different collection mechanisms of particulate filters

The first three of these mechanisms apply mainly to mechanical filters and are influenced by particle size.

  • Impaction occurs when a particle traveling in the air stream and passing around a fiber, deviates from the air stream (due to particle inertia) and collides with a fiber.
  • Interception occurs when a large particle, because of its size, collides with a fiber in the filter that the air stream is passing through.
  • Diffusion occurs when the random (Brownian) motion of a particle causes that particle to contact a fiber.
  • Electrostatic attraction, the fourth mechanism, plays a very minor role in mechanical filtration. After fiber contact is made, smaller particles are retained on the fibers by a weak electrostatic force.

Impaction and interception are the dominant collection mechanisms for particles greater than 0.2 ?m, and diffusion is dominant for particles less than 0.2 ?m. The combined effect of these three collection mechanisms results in the classic collection efficiency curve, shown in the following Figure:

Fractional collection efficiency versus particle

The TOTOBOBO filters is a type of electrostatic filters which contain electrostatically enhanced fibers. Such fibers actually attract the particles to the fibers, in addition to retaining them. Electrostatic filters rely on charged fibers to dramatically increase collection efficiency for a given pressure drop across the filter.

Following table gives a rough idea of how small a micron is:

 Substance  Micro-meters (microns)  Inch
 90% of Wood smoke particles are smaller than   1 micron  0.00004
 Bacteria (average)   2  0.00008
 Red Blood Cell   8  0.0003
 Talcum Powder   10  0.0004
 White Blood Cell  25  0.001
 Human Hair   70  0.003
 Grain of Table Salt  100  0.004

Read more:

Used filters from India

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

pollution outside of Beijing

Beijing filters

10 June 2008 Hervé 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 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. Surprisingly, once we entered the city of 15 million, crossing its six ring roads and arriving on Tiananmen Square didn’t pose problems when it came to pollution, as the light grey colour of our mask filters shows (see photo below). Surprisingly, once we entered the city of 15 million, crossing its six ring roads and arriving on Tiananmen Square did not pose problems when it came to pollution, as the light grey colour of our mask filters shows (see photo below). As we left Beijing we were spared the pollution on the first day, crossing the Great Wall in a setting of lush green hills, but soon found ourselves back in the soot-blackened industrial countryside as we continued North to Inner Mongolia. As we left Beijing we were spared the pollution on the first day, crossing the Great Wall in a setting of lush green hills, but soon found ourselves back in the soot-blackened industrial countryside as we continued North to Inner Mongolia.

read more

Related:
Protect your lungs when riding in the city

12 useful features for cyclist

How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?

Cycling through Asia without pollution

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 their lungs from the polluted air. Every six hours they changed the filter. By the end of their trip they had a visual demonstration of the relative air quality of the cities they had visited, thanks to the filter in their TOTOBOBO mask.

Across the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia, air quality was horrifically poor, in cities and the countryside alike. Airborne particulates, even when not plainly visible, abounded. Without the masks breathing was laborious, but with the TOTOBOBO mask breathing the polluted air was much more comfortable.
For extended periods of time the mask was comfortable even during the intense workout of a day-long bike ride. One downside (due largely to the high humidity of the climate) was the accumulation of moisture inside the mask.

Cycling in sand storm

Displayed below is an image of the air filters from various cities on their journey. Those particles that remained in the filter would have entered Herve and Goska’s lungs without proper filtration. The gradation in filthiness indicates the grave state of air pollution in the given cities. Without protective masks, continuous exposure to poor air quality causes serious pulmonary diseases and disorders. In China and India especially, where horrific air quality meets the world’s greatest populations, this is a matter of great concern.
After their trip Herve and Goska spread air pollution awareness by lecturing to university and grade school students about the state of air quality across the world’s most populated regions:

Filter visualize air pollution across Asia

Related:

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!

Surgical masks can not protect against flu

TORONTO Dec 19, 2007– Surgical masks aren’t adequate to protect people from becoming infected during an influenza pandemic, a panel of experts said in a report released Wednesday.

The report, written for the Public Health Agency of Canada, suggested industrial respirators known as N95s would be needed to minimize the risk of transmission of flu.

“Surgical masks don’t really fit the bill,” said Dr. Donald Low, chair of the panel which brought together infection control specialists, nurses and occupational health and safety experts.

“Even if they have a good filtering capacity, inhalable (virus) particles – because they’re not affected by gravity – will take the route of least resistance, which will be around the mask and through the gap that exists between the surgical mask and the face.”

link

Study shown wearing mask and handwashing reduce virus transmission

MedScape Medical News, December 6, 2007
Handwashing and wearing a mask are effective physical barriers to prevent the spread of respiratory tract virus infections, according to the results of a Cochrane review published Online First in the November 28 issue of the BMJ.
At the end of the article, it states:
“The use of handwashing, masks, gloves, and gowns alone or in combination to prevent the transmission of respiratory tract virus infections is associated with a 55% to 90% reduction in transmission.”

link: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/567044