3 reasons why this mask is the best for children?

While we are all focused on the COVID-19 today, it’s important to keep in mind that it may not be the only reason to wear a mask. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing an unsafe level of pollutants. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck us, you probably have seen many people wearing masks in polluted cities. As you can easily understand, children need to be protected as well. In fact, they need them more than adults because their lungs are still under development. Some children with asthma need protection as well.

So, what’s the issue here? It isn’t hard to find a pharmacy that sells masks, but the question is, will they fit and protect your children?

What makes a good mask for children?

When it comes to masks, good protection means a good filter with a good face seal. After all, you need to make sure that the air your child is breathing can only enter through the filters and not through any gaps under the mask. Effective protection only exists when the mask forms a good seal on the user’s face.

Surgical masks, common cloth masks, and the well-known N95 masks are commonly seen these days. However, most people do not know that these masks may not fully protect them or their children. Here’s why:

Surgical Masks

To begin with, surgical masks are not designed to protect users from air pollution. Instead, they were specifically designed to “Protects others from the wearer.” It works as a loose-fitting barrier. While these masks do a great job at preventing droplets from the wearer, they don’t protect you from air pollution or airborne viruses. The gaps between the mask and the user’s face let pollutants and viruses enter easily.

girl wearing cloth mask

 Cloth masks

A cloth mask, similar to a surgical mask, is designed to be loose-fitting and serve pretty much the same purpose of “Protecting others from me.” It does not protect the wearer from airborne viruses or particles. Cloth masks are made of soft fabric, they touch the mouth and gets uncomfortably wet and smelly pretty fast. While it can be washed and reused, it takes a long time to dry.

N95 mask does not fit children

N95 Masks:

N95 masks are made with proper air filtering material. They are also called “Respiratory”. N95 masks do a great job of filtering out pollutants and particles, if, (and that is a big IF) they form a good seal on the user’s face.

It’s important to keep in mind that these masks are only available in adult size and certainly won’t fit children. Besides, there is another issue: there’s no way to check whether an N95 mask is providing a good face seal, unless with professional equipment which is costly and usually only owned by hospitals or big institutes. 

Regarding hygiene, it is not an issue if the N95 mask is used one time only. However, consumers often reuse these disposable N95 masks. The germs and bacteria accumulated on the mask after each use can be a threat to health. A disposable mask can’t be washed and is tough to dry if wet.

Top 3 reasons why the Totobobo mask is better than the rest?

If you understand the issues explained above, you will appreciate the solutions provided by the Totobobo mask. Let’s go through them one by one:

#1: Flexible Size and Shape:

Some masks come in 3 sizes – S, M, and L. However, it is not easy to decide on which size to get without opening the package and letting your child try the mask on. Most shops do not accept returned products as it compromises hygiene. 

What the Totobobo Mask offers is the flexibility to shape and/or trim the mask down according to the child’s face. There is even a template for you to print and construct a “dummy mask” for testing before getting the real mask.

#2: Hygienically Reusable:

The world is getting more polluted and we certainly don’t want to add to the problem by throwing away more disposable masks. The Totobobo mask body is embedded with BioCote®, a silver-based antimicrobial agent. BioCote® technology is known to work against bacteria, mold, fungi, and influenza H1N1 virus. Recently, it has been tested independently and proved effective against a virus from the coronavirus family as well. Plus, the plastic body is easy to clean and dry, reuse is effortless and safe for your children.

#3: Easy Seal Check:

Totobobo masks are made with a transparent material, unlike most masks in the market. With a transparent mask, the user can easily check the seal it provides with a bit of “watermarking”, a patented process. Here’s how: https://totobobo.com/blog/how-to-perform-a-seal-check-with-the-water-mark-method/

Here are some of our family users with their children:



3rd Party Reviews on Totobobo Mask

It is important to study a product carefully before buying it, one of the most important things to take note of are the comments made by other consumers who have purchased the same product. To save you the trouble, we have done up a compilation of the different reviews we have gotten over the years from external sources, therefore they are trustworthy and not made up by us!

(Tips: click on the images below to jump to the sources)

Via News

Totobobo mask on Wall Street Journal

Debra Bruno, a freelance journalist and a jogger in Beijing explains her choice of Totobobo mask to the Wall Street Journal during an interview

“This filter was white when I started and it got this nasty grey after only 10km.” Chas Pope – Marathon runner

“The filters show up an astonishing amount of dirt after just a few cycles, which really hits home how dirty the air we breathe in is. It’s easy to attach and I can move my face when wearing it – a bonus.”

“Tipping the scales at 20g, Totobobo is the lightest reusable respiratory mask on the market. “

“The white filter pads make it easy – and incredibly satisfying – to monitor the particulates that have been caught  “



“There was a visible change in the colour of the filters, and I was more aware of the visible dust being kicked up by trucks and was grateful I wasn’t inhaling this. I suffer from hay fever and could imagine the mask would be a huge benefit in reducing the symptoms. “Chris Lima, a member of IoD Oxfordshire

via avid traveller:

“We have started using our Totobobo masks, and changed the filters for the first time after 7 days of usage in Malaysia, plagued by the haze coming from Indonesia. So far we are satisfied, it works well and the filters are getting grey as expected!” Davide Vadalà and Oti from Nomad Travellers

“it is a well-designed, super lightweight mask that allows me to freely breathe as I wheel around town.” Sahn

via cyclist:

“Totobobo mask has a good feature where you can customize the mask (and the ear loop) by reshaping it with hot water / hair dryer. This is a very crucial feature, a mask that do not fit your face is not an effective mask at all.”

“Given how dirty the pads get, I can only assume this mask is blocking out plenty of pollution. The mask itself is soft and doesn’t rub, even when sweaty.”

via Runner:


“Totobobo mask is also comfortable to wear and easy to breathe with. So it is commonly used by cyclists, motorcyclists and artists when navigating around in polluted environments.” Pris Chew, runner blogger

via artist:

via health sites:

“Aside from an amazing name, this mask is interesting for its design – it gets moulded to your face (using warm water) for a good fit, and when worn, is transparent where it’s in contact with your skin, and translucent otherwise. This means that you can just stand in front of the mirror and ensure that you’ve gotten a good seal on the mask.”

Clean Living Blog

“In other masks, there is no way to find out if it is tightly fitted on the face. Totobobo has solved this problem using an innovative ‘water-mark’ technique in which the frosted surface of the mask becomes transparent where there is good skin contact and remains translucent where there is a leakage.”

“the mask itself is more environmentally friendly. You only throw the filters away – not the entire mask. “

“This is the only mask I’ve been able to get used to. “

“As soon as I take it off, I’m aware of how much pastel is on and around me by just breathing (it’s scary to think I was breathing all that dust before!)”

More related links:

India H1N1 flu (Swine flu) increase demand of Totobobo mask

We’ve got tips from our India connection 3 days ago about the Swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in Pune.
“The swine flu made its entry India in Pune. Its only a matter of time before it surfaces in rest of the country. I foresee a huge need for Totobobo masks in India.” Our connection mentioned in one of his email.

Spike started on 2009-08-10

Spike started on 2009-08-10

This statement is also confirmed by visitor’s comments and the spike of demand from India over the last couple of days. We want to make it easy for India customers to obtain Totobobo mask for their protection, especially for children. We geared up our offer. The special offer at the end of this post is only available to customers ordering from India.

Totobobo mask now comes with 96% filter for better protection

AUG 11: H1N1 flu spread quickly in Inida

Singapore mask designed to protects children

News release
(Singapore, 4 May 2009)  As swine flu (H1N1) continues to spread, young children are at greater risk because of their lungs is still under development and there is a lack of child-friendly respiratory masks. The customisable Totobobo mask offers parents a reassuring solution and is seeing strong demand from around the world.

Totobobo mask fit children with small face size

Totobobo mask fit children of different ages

The patented Totobobo mask was created by product designer Francis Chu to meet the need for children respiratory protection. Made from “Totosoft”, a custom-blend soft plastic formulated using FDA approved sources, the mask is also equipped with two powerful electro-static filters. The mask can be trimmed to fit children as young as five-years-old. Parents can see through the transparent mask and double check if it fits their child snuggly.

For a mask to be effective, it has to fit the face snuggly, so that airborne viruses cannot seep through any gaps. Children wearing adult-sized respiratory masks, whether NIOSH-certified or not would be exposed to contaminated air due to the ill fit.

normal N95 mask does not fit children

normal N95 mask is too big for children

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the USA tests and certifies respiratory devices on the market such as the current standard N95 masks. This test is only conducted on adults. The certification determines the filtration efficiency and does not guarantee how well the masks fit. All NIOSH-certified respiratory masks, such as N95 masks, are fixed sizes and do not come in smaller sizes for children.

In 2003, when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) first broke out, Francis Chu, a father of two, got first-hand experience of the anxiety of parents concerned about his children’s safety. His children were only six and eight-years-old. At that time and he could not find a mask that would fit their small faces.

“I felt hopeless knowing that my children were in imminent danger if they go into crowded public space like schools or playgrounds and that I could not do anything about it.”
“The sense of threat prompt me into looking for a design solution that will fit all face shapes including children.” explains Francis.

The customisable Totobobo respiratory mask that Francis eventually created, after experimenting with hundreds of prototypes, fits both adult and child. Its soft and light material (only 20grams) makes it less irritable for children who might find it uncomfortable wearing a normal mask.

“I was thinking from a parent’s perspective during the design process and that pushed me harder to make the mask as practical as possible. I am happy to know that with the child-friendly Totobobo mask, parents now have a practical choice to better assured of their children’s safety,” adds Francis.

Time for a better mask to protect children
Parent testimonial

The Bangalore test

“Rohan is glad that the dirt is collected on the filter, not in his lung.”

used filter (200km) vs new

Used filter (200km) vs new

Rohan Kini, an online bicycle shop owner in Bangalore, India, was testing a new pollution mask. After 200 km of bicycling in the city, he was very impressed with the performance of a new mask call TOTOBOBO from Singapore and decided to carry it in his shop.

The air pollution in London is nowhere near Bangalore standards. However, riding in heavy traffic can damage the respiratory system. The question is: How does one know if a pollution mask is needed or not?

The latest TOTOBOBO mask won’t be able to tell that in advance. But you can be pretty sure when it does the job – simply by checking out the color of the filters. The filter will turn into a distinguish dirty gray to signal that it’s time to change the filters.

The mask is ergonomically designed to fit the majority of faces, from adult down to children of age 5! The secret is in a world’s first “customizable” feature which allows you to trim the mask smaller if it is too big for you.

This reusable, flat folding little gadget may just be the right thing to keep in your pocket when you brave the urban traffic.

more:� BumOnTheSaddle

PS. Totobobo filter uses special electro-static charge to collect even sub-micron dust.


TOTOBOBO and cycling

TOTOBOBO mask in NIOSH site

Totobobo mask was spotted in NIOSH NO-FIT-TEST workshop page Totobobo mask was spotted in NIOSH NO-FIT-TEST workshop page

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 istotallyappropriate 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 flupandemic 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 theNIOSHscience blog:


NIOSH debate how often to fit test

NIOSH debate how often to fit tes

Hopeful to see Fit-Test to be lifted– Edward Hernandez, City of Hialeah, Fire Rescuesays:- 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 Lovesays:

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 MacDonaldsays:

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 andconcern-Kelly Russellsays:

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.