Putting pantyhose over of a homemade mask boosts effectiveness up to 50 percent, new study says

Now that we're all (hopefully) getting used to wearing masks in public, it feels like time to add another layer to our pandemic routine doesn't it?

Research out of Northeastern University indicates that adding a nylon layer outside of a homemade mask can boost its effectiveness. According to NPR, the nylon addition increases the masks ability to filter out small particles by creating a tighter seal around the mask. In fact, in some cases, adding the nylon layer made homemade face coverings more effective than medical-grade surgery masks.


The nylon even made surgical medical-grade surgical masks more effective, pushing a standard surgical mask from blocking 75% of small particles to 90%, rendering it nearly as effective as the N95 mask, which blocks 95%.

Loretta Fernandez, one of the scientists on the Northeastern University research team, told NPR that the key to the nylon working was the way it compressed the mask to the face, sealing off any leaks around the edges. "It really improved the performance of all of the masks," she said, "and it brought several of them up and over the baseline mask we were using, which was a 3M surgical-type mask."

The effectiveness of cloth masks vary widely, with some masks in the study only blocking 30% of small particles. Using a thicker weave cloth and adding more layers to a mask helps boost its ability to filter, though any face covering is better than nothing.

With improvements of 15% to 50%, however, the nylon trick is worth trying. Fernandez suggests using queen-sized pantyhose to keep the nylon from being uncomfortably tight. Simply cut 8-inch to 10-inch strip of pantyhose leg and place it over your mask so that it overlaps around all the edges.

Though the research has not yet been peer-reviewed, Ben Cowling, an epidemiology professor at the University of Hong Kong who has studied the efficacy of face masks, says that the study and its findings are "important" and "promising."

"We need better information on what kind of homemade masks, what kind of fabric masks, are the best," he told NPR, "and how we can improve or upgrade basic masks to make them better."

The beauty of this upgrade is that it's cheap, easy, and works with any kind of mask. For medical workers short on PPE, nylon rings may offer an increase in protection, especially when cloth masks are the only face coverings available.

Since the coronavirus isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and we're still a long way from a vaccine, mask-wearing is going to have to be the new norm. Whether you sew your own, buy one from a seller, or use a no-sew mask, it looks like adding a layer of pantyhose to it might be wise.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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