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

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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.

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