Today we just received a detailed review from Korea. More interestingly, the blog “Breathe Safe Air” was started by Ethan Brooke, a New Zealander living in Korea. Ethan started writing about air pollution in his travel blog (Seoulinspired.com) and gets many interested. Early this year, as COVID-19 hit the headlines, he started to write about respirators for the virus. His writing is consistently well researched and objective. Below are some of the highlight from his review:
The first thing that stands out about this mask is the very unique look – it’s transparent with the exception of the filters. Some people love this look as it is more natural, however, there are also those who prefer the more traditional mask look.
What makes Totobobo stand out though, are the other unique features that it has. It’s made to fix one of the most common issues that reusable respirators have. That is the fit.
No mask is effective if it doesn’t fit properly. Not only is mask that leaks only partially (or not at all) protecting you, but it can even be detrimental in the sense of security that it provides.
This is where Totobobo shines. It is a mask that is made for the common user, someone who can’t get professionally fitted masks and doesn’t have training. It’s a mask that lets you perform your own fit testing.
cool-tools.org, a popular website which provide reviews of innovative new ‘tools’ posted an approving review of Totobobo mask by Pamela Bumsted.
This is a new design of respirator which has advantages for mass distribution, emergency preparedness, and multi-ethnic populations. I’ve been using/testing it for 5 or 6 years in the Unorganized Borough in Alaska.
The respirator can be cut with scissors to fit faces properly. Because they are clear, fit is easily ascertained. A clear respirator may mean they are more acceptable culturally (the face is not hidden).
The filters are replaceable. They allow a lot of air to pass through so can be useful in bike riding and outdoor work. They also allow moisture to pass through; I haven’t found the exhaled moisture to be a problem except in subzero temperatures (quite a bit of condensation then).
Instead of storing respirators of every size, only one size needs to be stored for emergency use. One doesn’t need to check sizes before distributing the respirators. Respirators can be cleaned and re-used by the individual (replace filters). I have seen them be used for pandemics, volcanoes, dust, woodworking, and cycling, and I am hoping to continue testing them in Alaska where we have faces from many different populations.
— Pamela Bumsted
Cool tools really work. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We only post things we like and ignore the rest.
Adrian, Willett & Mark of Viva La Bike recently post a review of Totobobo mask from Shenzhen, China.
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.
Super lite and thin
Thin but very strong strap
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
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.
Recently we travel to Taiwan and Hong Kong. To be on the safe side we all put on our Totobobo mask on the plane and in the airport. Who knows the one sitting next to you can be coming from a H1N1 flu infected country? This was the “acid test” to see if the mask really work in the context of air travel.
I’ve customized the masks for the two boys and Sharon in advance. So that part is not an issue. Putting it on was easy for Sharon and the younger boy, but it was confusing for the elder one. It turn out that the strap of his mask got entangled a bit and he couldn’t slide the strap along easily. I help him to remove the rubber band and disentangle the strap. He mange to put it on afterward.
A point to note about customization, it is not always true that smaller face need smaller mask. If it fit and seal well, a larger Totobobo mask is usually more comfortable to wear. So if you find the mask too big, start by trimming it a step, never jump to the smallest size immediately. You may find an intermediate size that seal very well and is comfortable to wear even for a long time.
Wearing the mask for an hour or so is not uncomfortable. In fact we pretty much forgot about it because it didn’t interfere with what we do. We all wear glasses, sometimes we read magazine, sometimes we watch TV and sometimes I was busy taking photos 😉
We had to remove our masks when the food came. We just remove the top strap, pull the mask down such that the contracted top strap now keeps the mask closed, and we just let the mask hang around our neck while eating. We put the mask back after the meal. The elder son fall asleep and the younger one kept watching TV.
I noticed many passenger used surgical masks. One family of three used N95 cup-shaped mask. But the huge N95 mask was not fitting the child and clearly he was not getting much more protection than those wearing surgical mask.
Some curious passenger ask where we got the mask from and even the stewards are interested in it. The surgical mask they wear is not giving them the protection they really need. It’s a pity that they have to face so many people from all over the world during the trip but not getting the protection they deserved. Anyone with friends working as air steward? Perhaps you should let them know about Totobobo.
Leaving the plane, we took off our mask when we were shopping in the airport shops, there seems to be more space between people and none of the staff or customers looked sick. Keeping it hanging around the neck was most appropriate because we needed to put on the mask again when we go through the next risk spot- the crowded custom.