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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
â€śTotobobo mask is far superior to any other mask on the market. Period!â€ť
7 years girl Kayla, fighting Leukemia with the support from her mother Debbie
â€śYour mask is the ONLY mask that fits the way a mask should. It is also the most economical product on the market. The other masks are hot, poorly fitted and have to be replaced repeatedly. I love your product and keep one of the masks in my purse, in case it is needed for Kayla. I am never without it.â€ť
TOTOBOBO is the first fitting mask designed with the need of children in mind. It can be cut to fit children aged 5 and above. It may fit younger kids depends on individual face size. The reusable mask is made of a special anti-virus and softy plastic material.
L. P. â€“ Ontario, Canada
I have tried the TOTOBOBO mask a few times and I like it very very much, it compare well or better than my previous North half mask. The only thing I might change about it is to make the strap a bit wider as it kind of cuts into my face a bit. I love the flexability of being able to use it for my children. Itâ€™s difficult to find anything in a smaller size and with cold and flu season upon us it is a useful tool when someone is sick here! Thanks and I am considering ordering more!
Thomas Eric Johnson Ph.D â€“ Thailand, Bangkok
My son and I cough and suffer from pollution in Bangkok. Other parents at his school think he is sick all the time, but when he comes home and is in a clean room, he stops coughing. We received the masks and my wife trim it to fit our son. You know what, the mask did fit! I used a 3M mask before but the TOTOBOBO is more flexible and it fits children as well. I could not find any other mask that would fit him. The TOTOBOBO works fine. Our son wares it regularly when the weather is dry and dust and pollution increases.
Joe Flynn â€“ San Diego, USA
â€śThe TOTOBOBO masks fits my small child well. I requested them after the wildfires here in San Diego â€“ I could find adult masks here in the US, but none to fit a child.
Burning joss sticks lit as an offering in shrines and temples fill the air with cancer-causing toxins that are every bit as deadly as traffic fumes and cigarette smoke, says Dr Manoon Leechawengwong.
Dr Manoon, who has just completed a two-year study of temple workers tasked with clearing the smouldering sticks, found the cocktail of chemicals in the smoke put them at risk of leukaemia, lung, blood and bladder cancers.
“One joss stick creates the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals at one cigarette,” said Dr Manoon, who led the research. “I knew there would be some carcinogens, but I was surprised by the levels.”
Joss sticks are a type of incense used in worship in many Asian countries. In Buddhism they are believed to aid spiritual communication and serve as an offering.
Dr Manoon’s study was conducted among 40 workers in three temples at Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao and Samut Prakan, sites chosen deliberately far from Bangkok’s traffic pollution. The findings were compared with another 25 people living in a joss-stick free environment.
Temple workers were exposed to high levels of benzene, also known as petroleum ether, related to leukaemia; butadiene involved in blood cancer; and benzo[a]pyrene that can cause lung, bladder and skin cancers.
The level of benzene in the temple workers was four times higher than normal, butadiene was 260 times higher, and benzo[a]pyrene – the most dangerous carcinogen – 63 times greater.
Analysis of the temple workers blood and urine samples discovered damage to their DNA, with a correspondingly lower capacity of their bodies to repair that damage.
“We know from our study that there’s DNA damage,” said Dr Manoon. “But what we don’t know is if they will develop cancer. Certainly they have a greater risk. It’s like smoking. Not all smokers get cancer, it’s about 20% .”
Blogger Fong Yoong Kheong offers the following practical solutions:
Solution 1 : Open Windows to ensure proper air flow, so as to reduce the amount that you have to breathe in.
Solution 2 : Wear a N95 Mask or Chemical Protection Mask. Like most people, he thought this will be simple. Just don a mask to prevent the inhalation of toxic substances. But unless you have a fit test equipment and do a proper fit-test, the assurance of protection can be an illusion.
Solution 3 : Learn from SAF – Simulate the smoke. (I really like this one)
Solution 4 : Install the Urn outside your house
Solution 5 : Buy premium grade Incense. They cost much higher but they are made of premium grade of wood and does not release toxic smoke.
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.
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.
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:
“Totobobo is far superior to any other mask on the market. Period!””
“After the Chemo Kayla is still immune compromised. This mask is our safety net that has proven its workability.
When Kayla did not have the mask and went to school she ended up in the hospital for two weeks, every month, for three months, totaling 45 days. With the mask -no sickness, no hospitalizations, no colds, nothing.
Your mask is far superior to any other mask on the market. Period! ”
– Debbie Witte, Kayla’s mum @ www.freehelpforcancer.com
Debbie known that her daughter Kayla needed proper respiratory protection if she wanted to play with other children. Kayla tried all sorts of masks: surgical masks, N95 masks but none of these work. Due to her compromised immune system after the Chemo-therapy, Keyla fall sick easily time after she play with other kids. Undefeated, Debbie continued to search. One day, a Google search led her to the Totobobo mask. After studied the website, she decided to give it a go. Much to her delight, the Totobobo masks works!
Filter + Face seal = good protection
The principle of how Totobobo mask work is simple: Isolation (good seal) and filtering.
Good protection = good seal + good filter
“Good protection is built on two factors: a good filter and a good seal“.
Surgical mask is not good enough
You may have seen news on TV that many school kids in Asia wearing surgical masks during the SARS. But the fact is surgical mask was not designed to prevent air-borne contamination. There are gaps from both sides that virus can bypass the mask easily.
Surgical mask is designed to protect nurses or surgeons from contaminated blood splash during an operation. In Japan it is commonly used to reduce the risk of spreading the flu virus from the wearers when they are sick. The protection value of surgical mask from air borne virus is a big question mark.
N95 mask effectiveness: fit-testing is a problem
Respirator (e.g. N95 mask), on the other hand, is designed to protect the wearer from air borne virus. This is only possible if the respirator is making a good seal on your face such that air have to go through the filter before entering the breathing zone. However a proper fit-test can only be conducted by a trained specialist with special equipment, which is simply too complicated for the public.
Manufacturer come up with “user seal check” which typically involve blocking the filter and blow into the mask while wearing it. To feel that if there is any air leak from gaps around the mask. But such practice is questioned by a study from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. The study suggested there is 25% of failure rate when trained users apply the standard “User seal check”. The standard user seal check recommended by most manufacturers is just too ambiguous and unreliable. “It’s usefulness as a pre-use test must be questioned”, the report concluded.
Another study “Respiratory Donning in Post-Hurricane New Orleans” (US CDC, May 2007) found 76% participants were not able to demonstrate proper donning for a good seal and their protection has been compromised.
TOTOBOBO maskimprove user seal check by 25%
When looking for a respirator to protect his kids, Francis Chu, the inventor of TOTOBOBO mask, encountered the same frustration as Debbie. He became aware of the many difficulties faced by parents and determined to come up with a better solution. He applied his expertise in product design and experimented with hundreds of prototypes. Finally he came up with an ergonomic design that fits most people and can be customized to fit children.
He understand that beyond a good seal and good filter, other issues like comfort, cleaning, reuse, portability are all important factors need to be addressed before the mask can be considered as “Child Friendly”.
Following is a summary of the issues and respective solutions embedded in Totobobo:
Children’s face size varies …….…….. Trim it to fit small faces
Difficult to disinfect (for reuse) …… Anti-virus mask easy to clean and safer to reuse
Children’s skin is delicate………… FDA approved, non allergic soft material
Not easy to carry………………..…………. light weight, folded flat
Parents and school teachers from different parts of the world have discovered the new solution for their children. If you are looking for an effective mask to protect your child, TOTOBOBO is exactly what your are looking for!
“It is the only mask out there that fits my boy and give him adequate protection.”
– Bob Williams, Knoxville , USA
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)
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.
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)
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.”