Why it is a good idea to wear a mask in busy traffic?

Cyclists should wear an effective air filter mask or better move away from the busy roads. That’s the conclusion I got when looking at the animated 3D ‘Pollution map’ video of London. The orange yellow color, mainly along the main roads, indicates high level of air pollution where the blue color are area with better air quality. It is intuitive to think air pollution level is higher along the main roads and lower away from the main roads, but I could never imagine the differences can be so huge!

In the short video below you can see the highest air pollution concentrated along the main roads and peak at the junctions, likely the result of slow moving vehicles there. Most of the area far away from the main roads are much better. Next time when I have to wait for the green light at busy intersection, I will hold my breath as much as possible.

The negative health effect of different pollutants are not the same. Amongst the pollutants, ultrafine particles (0.1-0.3 micros, currently not being regulated) can travel deep down into the lungs and stay longer there than their bigger brothers (PM10, >10 microns, PM2.5 >2.5 microns). According to WHO:

Some 3.7 million premature deaths annually are attributed to outdoor air pollution. About 80% of those deaths are due to heart disease and stroke, while another 20% are from respiratory illnesses and cancers related to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most health-harmful air pollutant.

Ultra fine particles clearly reduces the health benefits of physical exercise. There are increased evidence showing these ultra-fine particles are the silence killer closely links to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. According to UCLA, the smaller the particles, the more toxic chemicals they are they are carrying. These very fine particles can travel deep into the lung. They stick to the lung and releases chemicals that damage the blood vessels and cause blood clogging plaques to form. The worst exposure is right next to the highway. Therefore, it is not a silly idea to wear a filter mask if your biking route have to go through busy traffic. However, do make sure two things, first the mask must form a good seal on your face, otherwise the pollutant will bypass the filters. Second make sure the filters are effective to block very fine particles, including those of 0.1 micron and PM2.5 (below 2.5 microns).

Totobobo filter test agaisnt ultrafine particles (0.1 microns) Test report

Shop for Totobobo mask

Mike Mc Carthy and his experience with SuperCool mask

Mike Mc Carthy and his Totobobo SuperCool mask

Finding a suitable air filter mask for cycling is often not an easy task. Cycling posts many challenges to mask wearing: restriction of air flow, uncomfortable heat built up inside the mask, uncomfortable straps, goggle fogging, or the extra bulk to carry when the mask in not being used. I hope the following post will be able to help some of you out there, if you are looking for a suitable mask to protect your lung while cycling in air pollution so common in modern cities.

Our big thanks to Mike Mc Carthy for generously sharing his experience of searching and using Totobobo SuperCool mask for cycling. Mike first bought a SuperCool mask based on his research on internet. Following is his comments as the time goes by.

2012-09-28 Mike left a note when he bought his first Totobobo mask
I am a cyclist in a large city and the pollution can sometimes be a killer, I did try another mask that also covered my nose but it just so easily fogged my glasses up (As well as costing a lot more!) On an internet search I found Totobobo mask and I like the price as well as the fact that it leaves your nose uncovered, cycling with a mask and un-fogged glasses will be a luxury!

2012-10-06 Mike received and quickly tested with his SuperCool mask
Took delivery of my “cycle” mask yesterday and tried it for the first time today – was a short cycle, 12Km. just 35 minutes on my bike was amazed to see it had already discolored from that short time. Can’t imagine how bad it will get after 2 or 3 hours of City riding.
I am still not satisfied with the fit, maybe takes a while to get used to, don’t want to do too much cutting (And do please cut carefully and cautiously). Another upside for me was the mask also stops you from breathing dry air, their is some condensation to take the dry cut out of the air – I like that.
Design simplicity – Yes.
Functionality – Yes.
Fashionable – NO !
I doubt I will ever cycle again without it!

2012-11-19 Mike’s further feedback after 6 weeks of using SuperCool mask for cycling in Nagoya, Japan
As a cyclist, I been using the mask now for about 6 weeks and am very happy, it definately cuts down on the amount of pollutants one breathes in, and now that the air is much colder and drier (Nagoya Japan) a huge bonus for me is the fact that it cuts down on that cold dry air going straight into my lungs, the mask seems to warm the air up and moistens it cutting down on the cold dryness.
The only problems I had were minor – I cut too much away from the nose part – so cut slowly and carefully, also I hated the head straps – two of them that went around the back of my head, so I changed them so I could loop over my ears and are pre adjusted, very comfortable now!

I also regret not having ordered 2 sets of this mask – I want to keep one at my work place. Another order in the works. I got to say thanks for making a reasonably priced and extremely functional mask.

Related articles:
SuperCool, the coolest cycling mask
Philippines: Cool picture of SuperCool
SuperCool respirator review by product design student
What Ross say about the Totobobo SuperCool?
Mike Mc Carthy and his experience with SuperCool mask
Protect your lungs when riding in the city

More advanced features of TOTOBOBO mask
How to customize TOTOBOBO mask to fit your face?

12 useful features for cyclist
How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?
Buy TOTOBOBO mask
How long does the filter last?

London cyclist Claire tested Totobobo mask with shocking results

Thanks to the introduction of Andreas from London Cyclist Blog, I got in touch with Claire , she was looking for a better pollution mask to cycle in London. Claire want to use Totobobo mask to help her to cut out the air pollution during her daily 12 mile commuting. After using it for a more than a month, she was happy with the performance of Totobobo and can really recommend it.

Here is Claire’s detail report:

At the beginning of April I was suffering with a sore throat that was worse in the morning and evening – a trip to see my GP confirmed that it was a reaction to London pollution that I was sucking in during my 12 mile commute twice a day.

I had previously and sporadically used a Respro mask which is the only anti-pollution mask that I’ve found in the UK – but I used it sporadically because it has several big drawbacks for me:

My experience of using Respro mask

1. The mask itself is pretty big on a girl’s face and can chafe my skin. It’s like wearing a muzzle and covers most of my face, plus the velcro is very strong and keeps getting caught in my hair.

2. Even using the ‘sports’ filter makes it exceptionally difficult to breathe in sufficient amounts of air when going at speed, leaving me heaving like a fish out of water.

3. The amount of condensation produced inside the mask is incredible – after a couple of miles at a decent pace, my nose felt as though it was submerged, and when breathing hard, condensation was projected out of the mask – when going fast it occasionally splattered all over my shades!

So, in desperation I emailed the London Cyclist blog and asked Andreas if anyone had any ideas about alternatives – then he put me in touch with Totobobo.

Totobobo sent me 2 different masks, the Classic and the SuperCool – both made of very lightweight soft rubber with 2 small round white filters that sit on either side of the face. The masks come with instructions on how to cut the rubber to suit your face – initially I was a little concerned about cutting too much of my Classic away, but eventually after much cautious trimming I fashioned a mask that covered my mouth and nose and felt comfortable.

Riding home with it on was interesting – people in London are generally used to seeing cyclists wearing Respro masks and resembling Darth Vader, but here I was looking as though I had forgotten to take off my surgical mask. I got loads of odd looks and questions about how good it was.

The answer is that I highly recommend Totobobo (apart from the name, which is impossible to make anyone understand whilst actually wearing it!). When I got home I checked the filters and was amazed to see that even in 30 minutes the pristine white had turned to sludgy grey – I am quite horrified by this amount of pollution in London – I only wear each pair of filters for 2 or 3 days, by which time they are nearly black. With the Respro mask, until you’ve worn it for a couple of months you just don’t see any change of colour and probably don’t replace the filter when you should.

There is a little condensation produced by both the Classic and SuperCool, but the SuperCool doesn’t cover your nose, so there’s even less with that one. The thin straps fit behind your ears and afford a surprisingly secure fit and there’s a alternative strap that fits both masks but is a little more complicated than just fitting around your ears.

There are also different filters – a matrix filter and 2 different grades of particulate filter – 94% and 96% – both are easy to breathe through and the 96% gives a slightly higher grade protection from particulates.

So, in summary, buy a Totobobo and breathe easy – I’ve discovered just how horrifying London pollution is, and I value my lungs. Since I have been using my Totobobo my sore throat has disappeared – that makes me happy!

Related:
What Ross has to say about Totobobo mask?

Protect your lungs when riding in the city

More advanced features of TOTOBOBO mask

How to customize TOTOBOBO mask to fit your face?

12 useful features for cyclist

How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?

Buy TOTOBOBO mask

Air pollution in London due to road traffic

Cyclists should wear an effective air mask or better move away from the busy roads. That’s the conclusion I got when looking at the animated 3D ‘Pollution map’ video of London. The orange yellow color, mainly along the main roads, indicates high level of air pollution where the blue color are area with better air quality. It is intuitive to think air pollution level is higher along the main roads and lower away from the main roads, but I could never imagine the differences can be so huge!

In the short video below you can see the highest air pollution concentrated right along the main roads and junctions, likely the result of slow moving vehicles there. Most of the area away from the main roads are much better.

If you are waiting for the green light at any of such junctions, hold your breath. Because the ultra fine particles (0.1-0.3 micros, currently not being regulated) can travel deep down into the lungs and stay longer there than their bigger brothers (>2.5 microns). Ultra fine particles reduces the health benefits of physical exercise. There are increased evidence showing these ultra-fine particles are the silence killer closely links to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Cyclist! Wear an effective mask, or move away from the busy roads!

Give cyclist a Safety Wing

Riding in Seoul with a safety cyclist wing
Riding in Seoul with a safety cyclist wing

A conceptual work as mentioned by UrbanVelo.
Cyclist safety is one of the main concern that stop potential cyclist to choose bicycle as a mode of transportation.
Many drivers, even some cyclist, believe cyclist enjoy the road at the expenses of road tax paying car-owners.
The “Cyclist Wing” enhance cyclist visibility and safety on the road. From the driver’s perspective, the “Wing” makes cyclist becomes 300% more visible, and therefore easier to avoid.
“Safety by number” is an important factor supported by a huge body of research finding. More cyclist = more safety for cyclist .
The “Wing” makes the visual population of cyclist in any city increased to 300% with the same number of cyclists. Driver need to drive more carefully due to the apparent increase number of cyclists on the road.

With the air-cleaning function of the “Wing”, cyclists make a tangible contribution to the environment, at the same time return the right-of-way to cyclist.
it is also a subtle reminder of the harmful pollution from cars. The “Wing” earn the right-of-way for cyclist from a social perspective.

The “Wing” will help to tilt the favor towards cyclists and turn more potential cyclist into real cyclist.

Do you think the air-cleaning-cyclist-wing concept can work in your city?

Read more :
cycling
advanced cycling mask

Why Totobobo SuperCool mask sucks? Traffic fume!

SuperCool pollution mask helps cyclist and motorcyclist to fight traffic fume
SuperCool pollution mask helps cyclist and motorcyclist to fight traffic fume

Cyclists and Motorcyclists! If you are looking for a pollution mask that really sucks, your long awaiting search has come to an end. The new pollution mask from TOTOBOBO, called SuperCool mask, is designed to suck more, traffic fume that is— leaving only the clean air for your lung. Its high efficient filter keeps the nasty nano-particles out and doesn’t diminish the oxygen you pull in with each breath.

“The SuperCool is the world’s first pollution mask with the nose uncovered. Such unexpected feature brings surprising advantages. First of all, exhaling through the nostrils will never fog up your glasses. Having the nose free means you can clear your nose while protecting your lungs – a necessary edge when racing traffic or just cruising through town.” according to Francis Chu, a cyclist and the designer of SuperCool. “You can even switch between nose and mouth breathing instantly when riding through alternate clean and polluted area – no need to stop to remove or put on the mask.”

Whereas other masks require intense scrubbing to keep them clean, the TOTOBOBO can be washed and dried within minutes. Your breathing gear will no longer have a funky film of week-old bacteria. Even if you do, the SuperCool is easier to clean than the dishes in your sink. The rest of your cycling gear can be smelly and gross, but at least the one that covering your face should be kept clean—and odor free. Oh, and germs? No worries. The SuperCool is embedded with anti-microbial Silver ion inside out so nothing can grow on it.

The SuperCool mask is customizable to fit your face as need be. This helps to keep the best fit and seal. It also prevents your roommate or sibling from borrowing it and getting it covered in their germs.

The only way the TOTOBOBO SuperCool doesn’t suck is the SSS-look – Sleek, Slick and Slim, a far cry from other protective masks which look like the gear of a Storm-trooper from Star Wars. The SuperCool is small enough to fold into your pocket and weighs next to nothing (18 grams). It will slide under any helmet and leave plenty of rooms for glasses or goggles.

Best of all, the TOTOBOBO SuperCool mask is reusable, just replacing the filters as it turns grey. The SuperCool mask and filter are now available at totobobo.com. You will even get a free reusable pouch for carrying the mask!

About Totobobo:
Totobobo is the world’s first customizable respiratory mask designed to fit both adults and children. It has been sold to over 35 countries. Totobobo mask uses patented technology that ensures comfort and good protection from pollutants.
Totobobo is a trade mark of Dream Lab One Pte. Ltd.

Related:
What Ross has to say about Totobobo mask?

Protect your lungs when riding in the city

More advanced features of TOTOBOBO mask

How to customize TOTOBOBO mask to fit your face?

12 useful features for cyclist

How to clean TOTOBOBO mask for reuse?

Buy TOTOBOBO mask

Totobobo mask Review by Vivalabike from Shenzhen, China

Adrian, Willett & Mark of Viva La Bike recently post a review of Totobobo mask from Shenzhen, China.

Mark from vivalabike.com
Mark

Adrian
Adrian

Dustin
Dustin

After wearing the Totobobo mask, I honestly feel a discernible difference between the Totobobo and other lesser masks I have worn. In short, the bottom line is the way I felt during and after the ride, as well as the before and after shots of the filter. While we do not have access to technology that assesses filter effectiveness on a chemical/molecular level, the mask seemed to perform as it was intended to perform. Overall, the performance was solid, and is an excellent choice for those concerned about air quality.

Pros
Good Seal
Small Shape
Good Fit
Super lite and thin
Thin but very strong strap
Feels durable

Cons
Condensation>Wetness
Intake airflow produces a suction affect on mask

Review Testing Conditions

Air temp 25C, 70-80% humidity
Medium level of pollution report by Hong Kong Air Quality center
Ride-Streets, bike paths and sidewalks of Shenzhen

Observation:
Overall product performance was positive. Wearing the mask was fairly comfortable. The fit was good and it provided a solid seal when sufficient tension was placed on the strap. Inhalation(intake) provided a bit of a challenge as a suction affect occurs. However, during regular riding which requires normal inspiration/expiration, the suction effect is minimal. Exhalation(breathing out) was not an issue at all. Air flow outward tends to flow up through/by the eyes, which has the potential to fog glasses. Condensation within the mask tends to make the seal where the mask contacts the face, a bit sweaty. The positive benefits of the mask, perhaps outweigh a few of the minor nuances associated with wearing a mask that is of higher quality that of the N95 variety. Strictly going off of feeling and smell, when riding the bike while wearing the mask, intake of air simply felt improved. Riding my bike at least twice a day, I can really tell the difference between the way I feel post-ride as well as during. After wearing the Totobobo mask, I honestly feel a discernible difference between the Totobobo and other lesser masks I have worn. In short, the bottom line is the way I felt during and after the ride, as well as the before and after shots of the filter. While we do not have access to technology that assesses filter effectiveness on a chemical/molecular level, the mask seemed to perform as it was intended to perform. Overall, the performance was solid, and is an excellent choice for those concerned about air quality.

read more

12 useful features of Totobobo mask for cyclist

“My girlfriend Sarah and I have been using and very much enjoying the anti-pollution Totobobo masks in New Delhi – India. I want to say thanks… The radio taxis here have gone wacko and so we are spending a lot more time in rickshaws. I used to have a very bad cough and had to take allergy medicine but it seems to have resolved itself! no more medicine – no more coughs. ” – Sam

Personal experience is critical for the development of innovative technology. I cycle to work daily, and this allows me opportunity to test a number of different safety masks. These provide me with first hand evaluation of products from a cyclist’s perspective. Gathering input from other cyclists and working with their feedback helps take into account alternative climates and riding issues. All in all, I have found that the demands of a cyclist are many and, at times, contradictory. Here are a few:

Breathing versus Protection:
Cyclists need to breathe heavily, but the resistance through a protective filter can uncomfortable and increase strain. A filter with low air resistance would be better, but would be less effective in filtering. Most filters with high protection levels are difficult to breathe through, making finding the goldilocks zone of filtration and “breatheability” critical.

Heat Dissipation:
In a cycling workout blood is pumped vigorously through the body and heat is generated. A mask that traps heat is a major problem, because it reduces the intake of oxygen and makes breathing more difficult. Unfortunately, most masks on the market are heat-traps.

Easy on, easy off:
If only part of one’s commute involves heavy traffic and wearing a mask, why not wear it as needed? A well-designed mask should take this into account. The user should be able to remove and replace the mask with ease while cycling.

Portability:
Additional weight to carry while riding is a nuisance. Protective masks should be compact and lightweight. This makes bringing the mask and using the mask more likely and easier to do.

But rather than drone on further, let me cut to the chase and explain TOTOBOBO’s 12 features relevant to cyclists:

1) Powerful filter: Breathe as easily as not wearing a mask. With the TOTOBOBO filter, air moves freely while still capturing at least 94% of pollutants.

2) Fold flat: Compact and portable, the TOTOBOBO mask is no burden to carry around when not in use. Just fold it up and stick in your pocket.

3) Lightweight: Only 20g, unparalleled among reusable facial protection.

4) Low profile: The mask itself is only .5mm thick, like a second skin over your nose and mouth. It is nonintrusive, and can be worn with glasses or a helmet with no problems.

5) Comfortable strap: Less tension, more comfort. The unique, flexible strap may look flimsy but is surprisingly strong. The mask requires little tension to keep firmly in place with this plastic strap.

6) One hand on/off: With one hand you can take the mask off or put it back on while never stopping the bike.

7) Active valve: The mask acts as a one-way valve; as you breathe, so does the mask.

8) Raised structure: The mask’s design keeps the filter fibers away from your mouth and nose.

9) Customized fit: One mask fits all. The mask adapts to any face shape or size.

10) Anti-viral: A silver ion anti-viral agent stops any virus from growing on the mask, and lasts as long as the mask does.

11) Washable and reusable: Washable with soap and water. Easy and safe.

12) Transparent: The clear masks allows easy adjustment and checking of an optimal seal.

TOTOBOBO is the most comfortable mask on the market for cyclists, but it is by no means perfect. If you are considering using it, be aware of moisture trapping and potential fogging of your glasses. These can be mitigated by tightening the upper strap and loosening the lower strap, or, when exhaling, closing your mouth to break the seal below the chin, allowing the trapped moisture to escape.

Have you used a TOTOBOBO mask before? Have I missed anything?

Related:

Protect your lungs when riding in the city

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

Totobobo mask-Cyclist’s reviews