Totobobo mask hits 25 countries

The recent H1N1 flu triggered a sudden sales increase for face masks and Totobobo, the first customizable face mask is now hitting 25 countries across the world. The reusable mask is more reliable than N95 masks in determining face seal and this feature is greatly appreciated by parents traveling with young children during this holiday season.

a teenage girl wearing Totobobo mask
a teenage girl wearing Totobobo mask

The current H1N1 flu triggered a sudden increase in sales of face masks and Totobobo, the first customizable face mask, is now hitting 25 countries across the world. This is a new milestone for the company, Dream Lab One, the producer of the Totobobo mask.

Travelers, cyclists, wood-turners and artists alike have found this reusable mask highly effective in blocking out polluted air and various irritants. Sales of this reusable mask has increased significantly and it has received rave reviews from users around the world.

“This mask may have saved my life. First, the mask is made out of a rubbery material, so it sticks naturally to your skin. After I found the perfect position on my face for my mask, I no longer have any problems with breathing…at all…period. My nose has cleared up, my eyes are no longer irritated, I don’t cough or sneeze at all anymore. It’s comfortable and it doesn’t fog my glasses! I hardly know I’m wearing it!” said Paula Ford, a satisfied Totobobo user and a pastel artist residing in Tennessee, United States.

Individuals who rely a lot on respiratory masks tend to live in environments that contain either polluted air or airborne disease pathogens. An effective mask helps to filter out polluted air and airborne virus. There are two conditions that determine whether a respiratory mask is effective. First, it needs to seal the wearer’s nose and mouth snugly. Second, the filter material must be able to filter out the smallest of particles.

“Money can buy high quality filters, but a good seal has been a hit-or-miss affair,” said Francis Chu, the designer of the revolutionary mask. His design provides a simple and intuitive solution call VSC (Visual-Seal-Check) for the user to check the face-seal.

Easy Visual-Seal-Check (VSC):
To ensure good respiratory seal, normal N95 mask users can only rely on their ability to feel the air-leak around their face. Such method is not reliable and sometimes it gives a fault sense of security. Francis believes his transparent mask allows users to check the seal intuitively and to ensure minimal seepage of polluted air.

To verify this, he sent the mask to a hospital and compared the Visual-Seal-Check (VSC) with the gold standard respirator fit-test, a high-end quantitative system called PortaCount from TSI Incorporated. The result showed strong correlation (90%) between the prediction of the Visual-Seal-Check (VSC) method and the result of the gold standard fit-test proving his intuitive method effective.

“The Visual-Seal-Check, or VSC, is much more reliable than the seal check found in other N95 masks. This study shows that face-seal can be determined simply by checking the seal through the transparent mask,” says Francis.

5 years old boy wearing Totobobo mask
5 years old boy wearing Totobobo mask

Over half of the recent orders are coming from parents traveling with children. They appreciate the possibility to customize the mask to fit their young children. With the VSC they are more reassured that their children are getting the optimal protection.

To buy Totobobo mask (International)
To buy Totobobo mask in Singapore

Recent visitors
Recent visitors

Totobobo mask on Channel News Asia

Assembly line of Totobobo mask
Assembly line of Totobobo mask

demostration of trimming the mask to fit small kid
demonstration: customize the mask to fit small kid

The Channel News Asia program “I Journalist” and was first aired on March 23, 2009. It wasabout the health and environmental hazards of incense and joss paper burning. According to a study of over 60,000 househood conducted by Prof. Koh from NUS, people expose to high intensity of incense smoke or those exposed to incense smoke regularily over a period of 40 years have a higher chance to develop canser in the upper respiratory system. On the other hand, Prof. Bala from NUS did a study to compare the smoke given out from 6 different brands of incense and found out some of the joss stick gave out much more harmful smoke than others.

The last part of the program it is about the health risk (cancer) of inhaling the incense smoke. Totobobo mask was featured as a possible protection device, and it is the only one fitting children!

The incense smoke contains fine particals size between 0.2 to 5.6 micron. It should be noted that the most penatrating and most difficult size to filter is 0.2~0.3 micron. Totobobo filter is able to filter out at least 94% of such particals. The filtration efficiency for particals larger or smaller are even higher. Our study show two layers of the filter put togather will effectively make an N99 filter.

Write to: totobobomask (at) for a clip of the TV program

Face mask may reduce heart attack in polluted air

A research published on 13-3-2009 in the Particle and Fibre Toxicology indicates that wearing a respirator may reduce the risk of heart attack.

“This simple intervention has the potential to protect susceptible individuals and prevent cardiovascular events in cities with high concentrations of ambient air pollution.” stated in the website.

The research study:

The research was led by Dr. Jeremy Lingguish of the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, Edinburgh University. The team consist of experts from Centre for Environmental Health (The Netherlands), Institute of Occupational Medicine (UK) and Fuwai Hospital in Beijing, China.

The randomised controlled study involves 15 volunteers walked on a predefined city route in Beijing. The subject exposed to ambient air pollution and exercise was assessed continuously using portable real-time monitors and global positional system tracking respectively. Cardiovascular effects were assessed by continuous 12-lead electrocardiographic and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

Walking test route in Beijing

Walking test route in Beijing

The mask-wearing group result might have been affected due to poor mask-to-face fit. Despite this, the mask-wearing group demonstrated least affected by exposure to air pollution.

Current status:

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution is known to associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity, but it is not clear how this happens.

In another experiment, Magnus Lundb ck et. al developed a simple non-invasive method of assessing arterial stiffness and apply the method to demonstrate exposure to unnoticeable among of diesel exhaust can indeed increase arterial stiffness. This is possibly the best way to explain the link between air pollution and heart attack.

The team from Sweden and UK discovered that men exposed to small, unnoticeable concentration of diesel exhaust (350 ug/m3) increased the augmentation pressure by 3 mmHg and augmentation index by 8 %- indicating an increase in arterial stiffness. In a patient with established hypertension or coronary artery disease, small changes in central aortic pressure may be sufficient to trigger an acute cardiovascular event (e.g. heart attack, or stroke)

A point to note is PM concentrations can regularly reach levels of 300 ug/m3 and above in heavy traffic, occupational settings, and in the world’s largest cities.


Related article:

WHO: Health impact of air pollution

Pollution mask helps cycling in air polluted cities

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

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