When visiting Totobobo Headquarters, we had the possible to experience directly some tests on 3 different brand of face masks: Totobobo, 3M N95 and Respro City Mask.
The commercial version of each model was modified and equipped with a nozzle to be connect to a machine through a small tube.
The machine would compare the number of particles inside the mask and outside, providing a value and a graph showing how many times the particles were reduced. In example a result of 100, would mean that while outside there are 300 particles, inside the mask there would be 100 times less, that means only 3, or said in other terms a reduction of (300-3)/100=99%.
Testing the masks: Totobobo Mask
We first tried to test the Totobobo mask leaving on purpose some gaps for the pollutant to enter, to understand the worst case scenario. The resulting value was around 5, that means about 80% reduction. Still not too bad considering that it was a purposely faulty setting.
Later we performed again the test with a perfect fit, no gaps allowed, while using the N94 filters. The machine reached its higher limit showing 200+, basically it was reducing more than 200 times the number of particles, or said in other words at least 99.5% of the particles were blocked!
Testing the masks: 3M N95 Mask (1860s)
Then it was the turn to test the 3M N95 disposable mask. While it's not specifically marketed by the company to be used as a city mask, it's a commonly used and easy to find solution.
Oti tried to fit it as good as she could and the result was around the value of 30, that means about 7 times less effective than the Totobobo mask, but still a good 97% reduction.
Even trying to artificially improve the fit of the 3M N95 Mask by pushing all the gaps with our fingers, we couldn't get higher than 52, that means even in the most fortunate condition it couldn't reach the performance of the Totobobo. But still a quite good result for a cheap disposable mask.
Testing the masks: Respro Mask
But the real surprise came when testing the overrated Respro Mask.
In this mask model there is no possibility to obtain a perfect fit in any case, and the maximum number of reduction we could get was a mere 3.1! That's still better than nothing, but probably not much better than a scarf or an handkerchief could do.
A new Totobobo Mask costs 33 USD, a new Respro City Mask 41 USD and the 3M N95 around 1$ each for a package of 20.
As for the replacements an N94 Totobobo filter set with 10 pairs costs 25 $ (each pair lasts up to 2 weeks, so running cost would be 5$ per month), but are available also 10 F96 pairs for 35$ and 15 F92 pairs for 15$ (2$ per month);
A twin filter set for Respro City Mask, costs 20$ and each one should last around 1 month, so running costs around 10$ per month.
The 3M N95 disposable mask to compete with the Totobobo N94 filters running cost, should be reused for at least 6 days, and 15 days compared to the N92 filter set.
Given the test results and the running price, Totobobo mask has no rivals. The 3M N95 disposable mask can be a good temporary replacement while waiting for your new order of Totobobo filters, if you run out, while the Respro mask is not competitive in any case.
If you want to know more about Totobobo Mask you can read our detailed article: Pollution? The perfect anti-pollution mask for cities and travelling: Totobobo mask
Disclaimer: While the tests were performed at Totobobo Headquarter and we received some free sample masks, we didn't alter in any way the results of the tests.