Asthma causes : Air Pollution

Asthma is not something that we’re new to, it has been known to cause many problems and discomfort for asthmatic adults and children. Asthma can be deadly if it is not dealt with carefully. Both adults and children can suffer from asthma attacks when exposed to air that is filled with dust and other pollutants.

Normal airway and airway under asthma attack

Air pollution can be caused by different sources, both man-made and natural occurrences. Air pollution includes gases, smoke from fires, volcanic ash and dust particles. A research done by AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) shows that air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms. A study of young campers with moderate to severe asthma showed they were 40% more likely to have acute asthma episodes on high pollution summer days than on days with average pollution levels.

OzoneImage result for ozone

Source : http://o3organics.com/about-ozone/

A gas, one of the most common air pollutants. It contributes to what we call ‘Smog’ or haze. Commonly found in cities with more cars and also more common during the summer period when there is more sun and lesser winds.

Ozone is very irritating to the lungs and airways, hence triggering asthma attacks. It reduces lung function and make it difficult for us to breathe deeply.

Airborne ParticlesImage result for dusty air

Source: https://www.lph.biz/blog/2018/february/why-is-my-home-so-dusty-/

Another form of airborne pollutants, entering your lungs through your nose and mouth while breathing. People with asthma are at greater risk from breathing in small particles, these particles can make asthma worse.

How does an Air Filter Mask help prevent one from asthma attacks?

An air filter mask doesn’t help to get rid of the air pollutants, but it does help to prevent these pollutants from entering our body. Clean and fresh air is very important for asthmatic patients, therefore, wearing a mask that can filter out the pollutants is very important for them. Many might think a simple surgeon or face mask will be able to block out these pollutants, but in actual, these masks do not help much as the tiny particles can pass through the gaps in between the mask and the user’s face.

Totobobo Masks  are using filters that are able to filter out these tiny air pollutants, most importantly, the PM2.5 and 0.1microns. Even better, our masks are able to be customized to fit and provides a good seal, for both adults and children.

Here are some links for you to have a better insight of how air pollution can be harmful to our bodies, if you’re interested, do take a look!

For Reference:

http://www.aafa.org/page/air-pollution-smog-asthma.aspx

https://www.asthma.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/our-policy-work/air-pollution-affects-asthma/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465283/

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/ozone-asthma.html

We are also honored to have Dr. Anil, one of our valued customers, give us feedback on how Totobobo Mask has been helpful to him. Being asthmatic and a doctor himself, we can be sure that his opinions are valuable and constructive to other asthmatic patients.

Below are the posts about his review on the Totobobo Mask over the many years:

Letter from Dr. Anil Simhadri, a loyal user of Totobobo mask since 2010

Totobobo mask, mould scrubbing, wheezing and asthma

Why do people choose Totobobo mask? (2)

Wearing a mask while traveling in bustling streets? Here’s why!

An effective air filter mask is what every cyclist will need, or even better, to stay away from the busy roads. That’s the conclusion I got when studying the animated 3D ‘Pollution Map’ video of London, by Kings College. The orange and yellow markings, mainly covering the main roads, indicates a high level of pollutants, whereas the blue markings indicates that the air is in a safe and healthy level. Air pollutant levels are bound to be higher on the main roads when compared to places that stray away from the bigger roads, but who would have imagined the difference to be this big!

The short video below shows that the highest concentration of air pollutants exists along the main roads and peaks at the junctions, mainly due to the slow moving or stagnant vehicles stuck in traffic. Areas that are further away from the main roads are clearly better.

 

According to WHO (World Health Organization), the negative health effects of different pollutants are different. Ultrafine Particles, such as the 0.1-0.3Microns, can travel deep into our lungs and reside there longer than their older brothers, the PM10, >10microns and PM2.5microns.

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.

It has been proven long ago that ultra fine particles reduces the health benefits of physical exercises. Increased evidences have showed that these ultra fine particles are the culprits of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. According to UCLA, the smaller the particles, the more toxic chemicals they are able to carry. These ultra fine particles are capable of traveling deep into our lungs, they stick to our lungs and releases the chemicals they have brought along with them which damages our blood vessels and causes our blood to solidify, forming blood plaques. Places such as traffic junction and busy roads have the worst exposure to these pollutants. Therefore, it isn’t a silly idea to be wearing a filter mask while cycling through the busy traffic. However, you’ll have to make sure that the mask you own forms a good seal on your face and that the filters are able to filtrate the ultra fine particles (0.1micron and PM2.5).

Totobobo filter test against ultrafine particles (0.1 microns) Test report
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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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Matthew’s SuperCool mask

Matthew's SuperCool mask
Matthew’s SuperCool mask. Matthew is using Totobobo F96 filter

I’m a great fan of your super-cool mask. For a while I used a 3M face mask when cycling but found that I got a staph infection in my nose owing to the high amount of moisture it created. Yet without any mask when cycling in London my asthma became very bad. The solution was your amazing Totobobo super-cool mask. There are a number of reviews online, even by competing mask manufacturers which dismiss its efficacy and say how unnatural it is to breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. What utter nonsense! After only a few days it had become second nature for me to breathe in this fashion when cycling. Now I swear by the mask and am writing with the express wish that you use my endorsement publicly.

Sincerely,
Matthew (London, UK)

Recent reviews of Totobobo mask

Due to the haze issue recently, Totobobo mask received refreshed interests from the Singapore community. Here is a quick list link to some of the reviews:

2015-09-25 Video review of several masks which includes Totobobo, Air+, 3M, Respro and surgical masks, by Willy Foo, Photographer, Marketer, Technopreneur

https://web.facebook.com/willyfoo/videos/10153834644404245/

Willy Foo Photographer, Technopreneur reviewing Totobobo mask
Willy Foo Photographer, Technopreneur reviewing Totobobo mask

With the haze in Singapore turning bad, the perfect mask depends on the fit to each individuals face as much as the N95 compliance. I test several masks to see which is the most effective.

 

2015-09-27 Normad Travellers (Davide and Oti) extensive analysis of Totobobo mask and personal experience of using the mask:

http://www.nomadtravellers.com/backpacking/106-travel-gear/352-city-travelling-totobobo-mask-review

Oti applying water on her face to prepare for watermark seal check, a patented feature of Totobobo mask
Oti applying water on her face to prepare for watermark seal check, a patented feature of Totobobo mask

 

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 gray as expected!

2015-10-07 Detail analysis of Totobobo mask with back ground information of haze, by Ngoh Seh Suan

https://web.facebook.com/notes/ngoh-seh-suan/mask-testing-pm-25-thoughts/10153708914993653

Totobobo is an popular respirator within local leisure cycling communities – because Francis is a green commuter himself, using his bicycles whenever he can and promoting safety through road/infrastructure design. And safety through design was really the theme behind the Totobobo, although he has not said it before openly about the concept of his Totobobo respirator.

2015-09-14 1843 hr From an adjacent block to mine, a panoramic photo shows the obvious drop in air quality.
I’ve bought my first Totobobo way back in June 2011, when the haze that year was still around the June period. I bought my second set in Q1 2014, to meant to replace the very first set, which to date in September 2015, I have yet to decommission as it could be a standby unit in case I lose the newer unit. I bought my Moldex initially in March 2014, during a short-lived haze period while I used the my second set of Totobobo.

2015-10-06 Combating the Singapore haze and air pollution with the Totobobo mask, by Lifestyle runner blogger Pris Chew 

http://www.prischew.com/general/totobobo-mask-singapore/

Lifestyle blogger Pris Chew running with Totobobo mask
Lifestyle blogger Pris Chew running with Totobobo mask

 

2015-10-25 Professional review by A Cup Of Milk

http://www.acupofmilk.com/2015/10/totobobo-mask-review.html

Testing fit-factor of F96 and cotton pad. F96=200, cotton pad = 2.3. F96 is nearly 100 times more protective than cotton pad.
Testing fit-factor of F96 and cotton pad. F96=200, cotton pad = 2.3.
F96 is nearly 100 times more protective than cotton pad.

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. The rim of the mask is integrated with silver ion which is an anti-microbial agent.
Another good point it’s reusable, you just need to change the filter. When it gets dirty you can wash them.

 

DIY emergency Air filter

Project Oxygen:
DIY air filter, you need a water bottle, 2 T shirt, 2 pieces of threads, and a knife.

Oxygen is always in the air even under heavy smoke, the problem is that the air is contaminated by smoke from the forest fire.  A good fitting respirator, such as N95 mask, to filter out the smoke particles is a common solution. However, under emergency situation, it may not be possible to distribute N95 masks to all who needs it. Further more, even if the mask is available, it is not easy to ensure it is fitting correctly. A non-fitting N95 mask is not effective.

Here is a simple idea to transform readily available material into an air filter, which is able to filter the air for breathing safely.

To create this DIY air filter, you need a couple of T-shirts and a plastic water bottle plus a couple of strings. Based on our test with a professional machine (Portacount Pro 8038) such DIY filter is able to reduce air pollution up to 40 folds, achieving a filtration efficiency similar to N95 masks. It is capable of bringing down the fine particles (PM2.5, PM10) from super hazardous level (PSI 1000) to moderate (PSI 75).

Instruction video

Link to YouTube video

Here is a step by step guide:

How to DIY a personal air filter from water bottle and T shirts?
1) Cut some holes in the middle section of a water bottle
2) Fold up and roll a couple of T-shirt around the water bottle. (the one in the following video create 20 layer of fabric)
3) Tight the top and bottom part with a string to seal the gaps
4) suck air from the water bottle.
5) breathing mouth in, nose out.
Working principle:
Polluted air enters the bottle through the many layers of T Shirts material. Most fine particles will be trapped in between the many (20+) layers of fabric. We measured with a professional machine and the pollution can be reduced by 40 times (97.5% filtration efficiency). This is equals to bring the PSI down from 1000 to 75, a substantial improvement of air quality from readily available material on hand.
Water-bottle-AirFilter
Fig. 1 Working principle of the DIY water bottle air filter

 

DIY air filter cuts down pollution by 40 folds (97.5% filtration efficiency), bringing down the PSI from super hazardous 1000 to moderate 75.

 

SAMSUNG CSC
Working principle + finished sample of DIY air filter

If you feel this idea is useful for someone you know, please share. Here is link to a PDF file for printing to share:  water-bottle-air-filter.  If you have more ideas or suggestions, please let me know in the comment as well.

Note: The idea of DIY water bottle air filter has been demonstrated in our Lab in Singapore to show that it is effective to cut down air pollution. However different fabric material has different filtration characteristic. This idea has not been certified by any authority. User agree to take own responsibility for the use of the idea.

Commercial offer:

Totobobo mask online store

Totobobo mask International dealers

How is it possible to filter out sub-micron particles?

This question is repeatedly asked:

How is it possible for Totobobo filters to filter out sub-micron particles?

This is an important question because sub-micron particles ( eg.PM2.5 ) contained in polluted air is the major health concern. The secret of Totobobo filters is the high intensity static charges on each fiber which made up the filter matrix. When you breathe in, airborne particles follow the air and pass through the filter matrix. Fine particles are very susceptive to the static charges and therefore most of them eventually are attracted onto the filter fibers. In fact, Nelson Lab test shows Totobobo F96 filter is able to cut down 99.86% of 0.1 microns particles. Under a microscope it shows how small particles are attached to the filter fibers.

totobobo-filter-03b-800
Fig. 1  Fine particles, size range from tenths of microns down to 0.1 microns are attracted to the fibers as they pass through the complex matrix of the Totobobo filter.
totobobo-filter-02-800
Fig. 2 100X magnification view of a needle (0.6mm thickness) and filter fiber.
Totobobo filter with a needle of 0.6mm thickness
Fig. 3    Totobobo filter with a needle of 0.6mm thickness

 

Quoted from the NIOSH Science Blog below:

N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks

How do filters collect particles?

These capture, or filtration mechanisms is described as follows:

Diagram illustrating the filtration mechanisms of inertial impaction, interception, diffusion, and electrostatic attraction. In each case, fibers are shown filtering particles.

  • Inertial impaction: With this mechanism, particles having too much inertia due to size or mass cannot follow the airstream as it is diverted around a filter fiber. This mechanism is responsible for collecting larger particles.
  • Interception: As particles pass close to a filter fiber, they may be intercepted by the fiber. Again, this mechanism is responsible for collecting larger particles.
  • Diffusion: Small particles are constantly bombarded by air molecules, which cause them to deviate from the airstream and come into contact with a filter fiber. This mechanism is responsible for collecting smaller particles.
  • Electrostatic attraction: Oppositely charged particles are attracted to a charged fiber. This collection mechanism does not favor a certain particle size.

In all cases, once a particle comes into contact with a filter fiber, it is removed from the airstream and strongly held by molecular attractive forces. It is very difficult for such particles to be removed once they are collected. As seen in Figure 2, there is a particle size at which none of the “mechanical” collection mechanisms (interception, impaction, or diffusion) is particularly effective. This “most penetrating particle size” (MPPS) marks the best point at which to measure filter performance. If the filter demonstrates a high level of performance at the MPPS, then particles both smaller AND larger will be collected with even higher performance.

This is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of filter performance and bears repeating. Filters do NOT act as sieves. One of the best tests of a filter’s performance involves measuring particle collection at its most penetrating particle size, which ensures better performance for larger and smaller particles. Further, the filter’s collection efficiency is a function of the size of the particles, and is not dependent on whether they are bio aerosols or inert particles.

Graph showing a filter's efficiency on the Y-axis and particle diameter in microns along the X-axis. Efficiency falls in the 'Diffusion and Interception Regime'.

Shocking filters from London bike2work trips

G.Richerds-filters-1

Mr. Richards is a Triathlete, trying and trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. He advocates clean air after seeing how quickly his Totobobo filters turn into dark grey from pristine white just after a few rides to work.

I was shocked when received the used filter from G. Richards. He collected the used filters last year and the results speak for itself – you don’t want this stuff, such as PM2.5, get into your lungs!

For those curious, here are some details of Mr. Richards’ Bike2Work route:

From February to July, 2014, from Leinster Gardens, across Hyde Park and finished at the other side of River Theme. A 35 minutes cycling each way.

From July to December 2014, from Leinster Gardens to Hanover Park, 20 minutes each way.

Mr. Richards found that his right-side filter alway turns darker than his left-side filter, because he rides close to the curb and traffic is always on his right. Each pairs of filters were used for two weeks for riding to and from work.

G.Richards-filters-2 G.Richards-filters-3

Totobobo news features on Reuters

Our recent news about Petit mask make it’s way to Reuters.  Interesting!

Totobobo featured in Reuters News.
Totobobo featured in Reuters News.

SINGAPORE, Feb. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — India air took 6 hours off Mr. Obama’s life during his 3 days visit to New Delhi last week according to The Hill (27, Jan. 2015). Similar to many other big cities in Asia, New Delhi has high concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or PM2.5, which is known to cause lung cancer, heart attacks and various respiratory diseases.

Air pollution can be a real concern if you are traveling with children to cities with poor air quality, because children’s lungs are not fully developed and are more susceptive to the harmful effect of PM2.5, according to WHO.

Singapore based company Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for children and women. The new “Petit” mask comes with an innovative approach to ensure a good seal between the mask and the user’s face.

Quality of the face seal is essential for protection against airborne pollutants. However, this factor is often overlooked due to lack of accurate method to check the seal. A study of 1500 fit-tests of 500 N95 masks on 50 participants by Tongji Medical College (China), discovered that over 90% failed the fit-test due to poor face seal. This suggests over 90% of the time, consumer may not be getting the expected protection from N95 masks due to poor seal.

The Petite mask came with a simple “Check & Seal” system to address the face seal issue:

1) A patented method to check the face seal, called “Watermark Seal Check”.
2) A “ReShape” feature which allows the user to close any gaps by heat-moulding the mask.
3) In case “ReShape” alone is not sufficient to close the gaps, user may trim the mask to fit smaller children.

Compares with the original Totobobo mask, the Petit is softer and more comfortable. Beta tester, Miss Hu Xiao Fei from Beijing China, commented in China’s micro blog Weibo:

“When I put on the new Petit mask, I was amazed! It fits so well all around my face, there is nothing I can say. I just love it!”

Hopefully this small mask will provide some relief for families traveling to, or living in polluted area.

Singapore first “Petit” mask protects women and children from PM2.5

Children’s lungs are are more susceptive to the harmful effect of airborne particles call PM2.5. Air pollution can be a real concern for children staying in polluted cities such as Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, or Manila.

Singapore based Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for women and children. The new “Petit” mask (TT-02) comes with an innovative system to ensure a good face seal and protection.

Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system
Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system

Quality of the face seal is essential for the effectiveness of protection against air pollution such as PM2.5. However, it is often overlooked due to lack of simple and accurate method to check the seal. A study of 1500 fit-tests of 10 popular models of N95 masks on 50 men and women by Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University in China, discovered that over 90% of the tests failed due to poor face seal. This suggests at consumer level, over 90% of the time, even a certified N95 mask may fail to provide the expected protection due to poor face seal.

Totobobo UNIFit system addresses the important issue of face seal with “Check & Seal” approach: 

1) An easy and accurate method to check the face seal, called “Watermark Seal Check”.

2) A “ReShape” feature which allows the user to shape the mask to close any gaps identified by the Watermark Seal Check.

3) A “Cut to size” feature which allows user to trim the mask to fit small children, in case ReShape alone is not sufficient to close the gaps.

“In addition to better fit and better protection, the UNIFit system also results in more comfortable wearing mask.” said the inventor Francis Chu, who has 20 years professional experience in product design.

Woman wearing Petit mask
Woman wearing the Petit mask. One can easily check the seal through the transparent mask.
A boy wearing Petit mask (customised to size)
A boy wearing Petit mask (trimmed to size)

Compares with the original Totobobo mask, the Petit is smaller, softer and more comfortable. Early Petit mask tester, Miss Hu Xiao Fei from Beijing China,  commented in Weibo:

“When I put on the new Petit mask, I was amazed! It fits so well all around my face, there is nothing I can say. I just love it!”

 

There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China
There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China

More information about the Petit mask can be found from the official website: totobobo.com, or contact us here.