13-year-old publishes scientific paper showing hand dryers can damage kids' hearing.

If you've ever been in a public restroom with a small child, you may have heard them complain about the hand dryers or seen them covering their ears as they walk by them.

It turns out, there's a scientific reason for that.

Nora Keegan of Calgary, Canada just published a paper in a medical journal with research proving that hand dryers may be detrimental to children's hearing. But the coolest thing? She's only 13.

When she was younger, Keegan noticed that her ears would sometimes ring after she starting using hand dryers in public restrooms. "I also noticed that children would not want to use hand dryers, and they'd be covering their ears," she told NPR.

So at age nine, she decided to explore whether automatic hand dryers might actually damage children's hearing. Between 2015 and 2017, she tested the volume of 44 hand dryers in public restrooms in Alberta, Canada. Using a decibel meter, she measured the noise levels of different hand dryers from various heights and distances.


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Children's hearing is more sensitive than adults, and they hear the blowing from a different angle than adults do. As Keegan points out, "Hand dryers are actually really, really loud, and especially at children's heights since they're close to where the air comes out."

Keegan found that Xlerator brand dryers and two types of Dyson Airblades were the loudest, exceeding 100 decibels. In her study, she noted that volume can lead to "learning disabilities, attention difficulties, and ruptured ear drums."

"My loudest measurement was 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model," she told NPR. "And this is not good because Health Canada doesn't allow toys for children to be sold over 100 decibels, as they know that they can damage children's hearing."

Keegan's research confirmed her original hypothesis, and she presented her findings at a Calgary Youth Science fair earlier this year. Then, in June, her study was published in the Canadian journal, Paediatrics & Child Health.

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Keegan's published paper states, "Previous research has suggested that hand dryers may operate at dangerously loud levels for adults. No research has explored whether they operate at a safe level for children's hearing."

"More children lately are getting noise-induced hearing loss, and the more exposure children have to loud noises, the more likely they are to have hearing problems later in life," the study continues. "Children's sense of hearing continues to develop during their first several years of life, and loud noise exposure in this period can damage their hearing development."

The middle-schooler told NPR she hopes her study will lead to more research and eventually prompt Canada to regulate the noise levels of hand dryers.

Here's to young female scientists leading the way!

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Courtesy of Nextdoor

Jayden, Jayson, Jordan, Jeffery and Jared received an outpouring of support from neighbors after they came home from the NICU at almost a year old.

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When the children's hospital called Aileen's pediatric occupational therapy clinic in July of 2020, the clinic was closed due to pandemic lockdowns. The hospital informed her that a set of quintuplet baby brothers had been born in November of 2019 and would be in need of her services once they were released. Would she be able to help?

Aileen often gets direct referrals from the hospital for families with special conditions, and premature quintuplets who spent their first year of life receiving oxygen and feeding through tubes certainly fit that bill. She decided to open her clinic specifically for the babies and their mother, Jackie. As the babies were released, they came to Aileen for ongoing occupational therapy, and by November 2020, all five boys were being cared for at the clinic.

The quintuplets stayed in the NICU for nearly a year after they were born.Courtesy of Nextdoor

Jackie is a single mom who moved to the U.S. from Ghana a couple of years ago. She lives with her mom and aunt in the Atlanta area and also has another son, Daniel, who was 3 years old when the boys came home from the hospital. With a preschooler and five babies needing medical care, Jackie definitely needed more help than her family and church could provide, but she was too shy to ask for it. Eventually, she confided in Aileen that she could use help with diapers. Even with one baby, diapers are expensive; keeping up with five at once would be overwhelming.

Aileen contacted local aid organizations who normally have diapers to offer, but they were all in short supply due to the pandemic. So she decided to reach out to her neighbors instead.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!