Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Totobobo Facemask Review

Totobobo in use on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Laura Liong.

The Totobobo respiratory facemask was developed in Singapore by Francis Chu out of the 2003 SARS H5N1 outbreak. Francis, a product designer, set out to design an anti-virus, anti-pollution facemask that was comfortable to wear and that would fit all face types, including children (down to age 5). The end result is the Totobobo, the world’s first customizable respiratory mask.

Francis says: “No mask can cut all pollutants 100%, we chose to focus on SPM (Suspended Particulate Matter) because it is the most worrying.” The filtration efficiency of the Totobobo filter (F94) is 94%.

Rice paddy field just off Highway 1, near Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Laura Liong.

I had a chance to use the Totobobo mask during my recent bicycle tour of Vietnam. Weighing just 20g, the mask is both lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack. It is made of soft plastic and doesn’t absorb sweat or moisture and is easy to keep clean. The soft plastic conformed well to the shape of my face, creating a good seal that is needed for the mask to be effective. Once in place, it is also very comfortable, and breathing resistance is very low. The replaceable filters are electro-static charged and filters out very fine particles (0.3 micron or even smaller). In a pinch, if you ran out of filters, I suspect you could stuff the filter holder with circular facial cotton pads, but I don't know what sort of protection you would get ;o)

Rush hour in Danang, Vietnam.

The long straps make the mask very versatile and I can use it over my bicycle helmet. However, I did have some initial frustrations with the long straps as they got tangled behind my neck. Laura eventually gave up on hers, but I persevered and remembered Francis’s technique of removing the mask by pulling ONLY the top strap over my head and leaving the bottom strap behind my neck. Once I’d left the single strap behind my neck, I could pull through the continuous strap until the top portion effectively closed the mask and the rear strap was long enough for me to slip the mask into my breast pocket until needed again.

Francis fitting the Totobobo Mask on Laura.

The Totobobo would come in useful for travelers going to the cities of busy developing countries, and as the world continues to become more crowded, consider that the Totobobo not only offers protection against pollution and allergens, but also from some airborne diseases, such as the H1N1 virus.

For more information or to order the mask, please click here. Enter "adventurenomad" into the discount code to receive a special promotion price on the Totobobo anti-pollution face mask and filters!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did the filters get very dirty?

Ken said...

Yes, but I continued to use them as there was no increase in breathing resistance.

I think Francis recommends changing the filters every 10 hours of use, but I don't think that's necessary. I'd change them at the end of the trip though so I could have new ones for each trip.

totobobo said...

For pollution protection, it is best to change the filter when the color change to a mid-grey color. Certainly before it become dark grey.
The breathing resistance will not increase if the particles trapped are very small, but the effectiveness of the filter will decrease since the filbers are covered with the fine pollutant and won't be able to attract more.

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