northeastern university seal

Not all masks are created equal, and neither are people’s faces. That means that even if you combine the best available materials to make a homemade mask, the thing might not offer enough protection from the coronavirus and other harmful microscopic particles if it doesn’t create a tight seal on your face.

That’s exactly why Loretta Fernandez, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, set out to test different masks from people who started making masks to address shortages in the U.S. in April.

The tests, which included Amy Mueller, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, also focused on testing masks made with materials commonly available at home or from fabrics commonly sold by crafts and fabric retailers.

The team found that one trick to improve the fit of any of those masks is adding a layer of nylon to help press the mask closer to the face. In their tests, the team simply used pantyhose cutouts.

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