Pollution Masks: Which Are Best?

BY DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR, ON SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2010

My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr
My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr

Real World Testing

I tried it around town for a bit, and the overall comfort is good. It definitely is less awkward-looking than the typical N95 with exhalation valves. I was pleasantly surprised with the seal and that my glasses didnít fog up, although I got those mask lines on my face that other masks also cause. Itís relatively easy to keep on, with straps either behind the ear or behind the head (which always provides a closer fit).

I didnít do any fancy technical testing with it, but on a bad, smelly day I put on the mask and instantly could no longer smell that pollution.

Also, there are a few other real-world advantages:

Itís not totally uncool-looking
Itís reusable and washable, and itís easy to carry in a pouch (provided by them)
There are kids sizes
You can quickly cut the mask to fit better
The masks and filter refills are very reasonably priced

My Bottom Line

Totobobo didnít pay me anything, and I get no income from them for this mention. Iím simply trying to find well-researched options to protect myself and anyone else from Beijingís air pollution, and Iíd be more than happy to review other masks as well and to publish the results. Last year I tried to find good studies on other brands, including Respro, but I found no well-designed studies on other masks. Does anyone have such information?

I think Totobobo is a good and affordable option for people. And a 135-fold drop in pollution is very impressive; even on an emergency day with the AQI over 500, the mask would bring your air to WHO-safe levels.

Member of Medical code of conduct
DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR is a member of "Medical code of conduct"

Erika’s finding: Respiratory Safety for exercising outdoors in Urban areas

ďIím a Product Design student in New Zealand and Iím currently looking into the issue of Respiratory Safety for exercising outdoors in Urban areas. To find a solution I need to find out as much as possible from those of you who feel affected/concerned by the issue. I will be designing a system or product that hopefully appeals to users and improves respiratory safety and performance but I need to know your thoughts/wants/needs/donít wants in a product!! If youíve got a bit of time it would be great if you could answer the following survey to help my research along! Ē

Erika Hansen testing running with a respirator
Erika Hansen testing a respirator running

Erika Hansen, a Industrial design student from New Zealand posted a survey regarding respiratory protection in outdoor sports to many cycling forums like Melbourne Cyclist , Bike Radar, Vorb and others. Her questionnaire must have traveled around the world multiple loops and helped her uncovered many useful insights.

I was curious and asked Erika if she would mind sharing her research. Erika is very kind and forwarded her research synopsis to share with all.

Erika Hansen-research synopsis

The measured mean tropospheric NO2 for 2008 as measured with the satellite instrument SCIAMACHY. Hotspots on these world map are the industrialised area in Europe, China, the USA and South-Africa. A lot of other mega-cities can also be found as a localised spot with enhanced NO2 concentrations.
The measured mean tropospheric NO2 for 2008 as measured with the satellite instrument SCIAMACHY. Hotspots on these world map are the industrialised area in Europe, China, the USA and South-Africa. A lot of other mega-cities can also be found as a localised spot with enhanced NO2 concentrations.

Toxic cities mock ‘healthy’ cycle riding

The Sunday Times – by Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor
source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7140213.ece

cyclists riding in traffic inhale 5 times more pollution than drivers and padestrian
cyclists riding in traffic inhale 5 times more pollution than drivers and padestrian

CYCLING to work may seem the healthy option, but a study has shown that people riding in cities inhale tens of millions of toxic nanoparticles with every breath, at least five times more than drivers or pedestrians.

The research involved fitting cyclists with devices that could count the particles, mostly emitted by car exhausts, in the air they were breathing.

It showed that urban concentrations of nanoparticles, which measure just a few millionths of a millimetre, could reach several hundred thousand in a cubic centimetre of air.

The particles, when inhaled, have been linked to heart disease and respiratory problems.

Because they are exerting themselves, cyclists breathe harder and faster than other road users. The study found that they suck in about 1,000 cubic cm with each breath, meaning they may inhale tens of millions of the particles each time they fill their lungs, and billions during a whole journey.

ďThis is the first time anyone has counted the particles while also measuring peopleís breathing during city commuting. It showed that cyclists can inhale an astonishing number of pollutant particles in one journey,Ē said Luc Int Panis of the transport research institute at Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study.

For the research, just published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, Int Panis and his colleagues asked cyclists to pedal while wearing a mask fitted with instruments that could measure and count the particulates, as such particles are known. All are invisible even in severely polluted air.

The researchers found that in Brussels the cyclists inhaled 5.58m nanoparticles for every metre cycled, dropping to about 1.1m when they tried the experiment in Mol, a much smaller town in Belgium.

They also found the cyclists inhaled four to five times more particles than a car passenger driven along the same route.

Int Panis said: ďThe air pollution figures in a big city like London or Birmingham are the same as or greater than in Brussels so British city cyclists will experience similar effects.Ē

For cyclists and other road users, the key question is what the health impact might be of inhaling so many particles.

This has been one of the hardest questions to answer because the time lag between exposure to pollutants and developing an illness is usually long.

Earlier researchers had the same difficulty when studying whether smoking was linked to lung cancer, and it took decades to confirm the connection.

New techniques for gathering and analysing data mean, however, that the health problems caused by particulates are emerging much more quickly.

A study carried out in London, to be published soon in the journal Epidemiology, is expected to show that exposures to high concentrations of nanoparticles are associated with a higher risk of heart disease. It will also show an association between larger particulates and respiratory health.

Other studies have shown that exposure to particulate pollution can have rapid short-term effects too ó such as provoking asthma attacks.

In a 2007 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Imperial College London asked 60 people with mild or moderate asthma to walk along the western end of the busy Oxford Street in central London, where only diesel-powered taxis and buses, plus cyclists, are permitted. The volunteers suffered asthma symptoms such as reduced breathing capacity and lung inflammation.

Diesel vehicles emit far higher levels of pollutant nanoparticles than petrol engines.

What alarms health researchers is that such particles are so small that they penetrate the lungs and circulate in the blood. They are then thought to accumulate in organs such as the heart and brain and cause inflammatory reactions.

Wearing a mask offers little protection as the particles are so small that they pass straight through any shield.

Earlier this year, such fears prompted the House of Commons environmental audit select committee to publish a report warning that air pollution caused about 50,000 premature deaths a year in Britain.

Int Panisís research has already annoyed cycling groups. He has decided not to attend Velo-city 2010, a conference on cycling to be held in Copenhagen next month, because of the hostility he faced when announcing preliminary results of his research.

Int Panis and his colleagues point out that cycling still brings many health benefits and hope that it may be healthier than driving a car.

Int Panis said: ďI am a cyclist and the idea that riding a bike might be less healthy than driving is not pleasant, but I am also a scientist, so I have to look at the data.Ē

Totobobo in Medical Product Asia magazine

The well known bi-monthly magazine [Medical Product Asia] carries a full page feature of Totobobo mask this month.
Quote:

“The mask from the tiny red dot has officially become a worldwide phenomenon, providing respiratory protection to customers from 35 countries.”

Medical Product Asia features Totobobo mask
The May issue of the famous Medical Product Asia features Totobobo mask

Totobobo featured in Medical Products Asia
full page feature of Totobobo mask in Medical Product Asia

About Medical Product Asia:
MEDICAL PRODUCTS ASIA is the ONLY magazine 100% focused on medical devices in Southeast Asia! MEDICAL PRODUCTS ASIA is the journal that will highlight the latest developments and innovations for the medical equipment industry covering supplies, furnishings and accessories, product designs, development and services as well as information on legislation, patents and intellectual property rights.

Read the full article

Other media coverage of Totobobo mask:
International Plastic News
Sing Ming News Paper
1000 news website hosting Totobobo
Monocle Singapore National Survey
Totobobo mask in Lian He Zhao Bao
Totobobo in MyPaper
Totobobo in Business Week
Totobobo mask on Channel News Asia

Totobobo’s “SoftTech” application featured in International Plastic News

International Plastic News interviewed Sharon, our MD, in their “Boardroom Connection”.

The advanced “SoftTech” application in Totobobo mask is recently featured in an article “Reusable mask a big hit” from the International Plastic News.

A highly effective mask from a patented advanced technology that ensures respiratory seal now offers users guaranteed protection from pollutants. Sold in over 30 countries around the world, the Totobobo mask is made of custom-engineered “SoftTech” plastic formula which makes it remarkably flexible and comfortable.”

Totobobo featured in International News
Totobobo mask featured in International Plastic News

Recommendation from Totobobo mask users can testify that “SoftTech” material is fundamental to 5 key competitive advantages of Totobobo mask:

  • Comfort (lightweight and flexible)
  • Protection (ensure good seal)
  • Customizable (easy to trim to fit different face size)
  • Reusable (durable)
  • Anti-microbial
  • The full article is available on the magazine website. Go to page 12 to read the full article.

    Travel advices for asthmatic after the Iceland Eyjafjallajokul volcano eruption

    “I’m traveling to London with my girl and I’d like to be prepared for any†volcanic ash needs.”

    Murray Kohlhaas is planning a week long trip to Europe and doesn’t want to take any chance with her asthmatic daughter.

    parent see through the mask to check face seal
    Clear mask allows parent to check the face for child seal easily

    The volcanic dust can cause acute asthma attack if the concentration is high. In addition to the inhaler and medicine Murray purchased a transparent mask called†TOTOBOBO for her daughter. She stumbled on this mask when she was reading a website call†free help for cancer.

    “This mask is recommended by the parents of cancer patient, and cyclists in most polluted cities use it.† I can count on it to protect my girl.”

    The†World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised travelers suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders to wear masks or stay indoors to avoid potential hazards caused by the recent volcanic ash from Iceland. The effects will begin to sink in when the ash descends and falls on countries across Europe. Analysis of the ash estimated that about 25% of the particles are less than 10 microns in size, which is more dangerous because they can penetrate deeper into the lungs, according to Dr Maria Neira, Director of Public Health and Environment Department at WHO.

    Eyjafjallajokull volcano Plume
    Eyjafjallajokull volcano plume in Iceland

    Travelers with condition of asthma or other respiratory disorders should seek advice from doctors and observe the following precautionary measure:

    • Avoid unnecessary exposure to ash or pollution.
    • Wear a mask if need to go outside. The mask should form a good seal on your face.
    • Keep inhalers and medications at hand.
    • Wear goggles or glasses. Avoid using contact lens.
    • Keep a record of allergens in case of emergency.

    1000 news website hosting Totobobo

    This is amazing. Our recent news “Singapore reusable mask hits 35 countries” has been pick up by over 1000 news website all over the world!

    Major media covering Totobobo mask
    Major media covering Totobobo mask

    Among them are business news sites including Forbe (180K visitors a day), Yahoo, MarketWatch (160K visitors a day), Environment news sites like Earth Times, Medical/ Healthcare sites like MedIndia and Lifestyle news sites like Michigan Live (280K visitors a day).

    As a result we are receiving more enquiries and is looking forward to work with more dealers from different countries.

    We are happy to mention that we use eRelease (exclusive partner of PRNewswire) for distribution of our news.

    Monocle Singapore National Survey

    For the past three months, Monocle editors, writers and photographers have been shuttling in and out of Singapore to interview CEOs, check out on the rise neighbourhoods, meet the country’s cinema sirens and even visit the odd oil refinery for their second national survey (1st was Mexico). The Monocle Singapore National Survey is compact and concise, and it covers many significant grounds like business, culture and media with perspective from both inside and out.

    We are excited to learn that Totobobo was spotted and mentioned as one of five high potential Singapore brands that can make it globally. We are indeed working in that direction- providing high quality products from Singapore to the world. The other four brands being mentioned are: Central Provident Fund, Osim iEcologi (innovative Vacuum/Steamer/Air purifier), Stikfas (Action figures) and Singapore’s Civil Service. From hip toys to government service, the combination seems funny but you would not be too surprised if you are familiar with the unorthodox Monocle approach and have heard that Singapore government run the country like a well organised company.

    5 Brands/ Monocle Singapore National Survey
    5 Brands/ Monocle Singapore National Survey

    Monocle is a magazine and Web site founded by Tyler BrŻlť, a Canadian journalist and entrepreneur. Described by CBC News reporter Harry Forestell as a “meeting between Foreign Policy and Vanity Fair”, the magazine purports to provide a globalist perspective on international affairs, culture and design to wealthy, cosmopolitan readers. This issue’s Monocle published a Singapore National Survey in association of Economic Development Board.
    Downland the full Monocle Singapore National Survey.

    Monocle 2009 September cover
    Monocle 2009 September cover