Health

Homemade Masks Help Combat the Spread of Viruses like COVID-19

Homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19. Researchers tested the breathability and droplet-blocking ability of 11 common household fabrics, using a medical mask as a benchmark. 

Studies indicate that homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 when combined with frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Many of these studies focus on the transfer of tiny aerosol particles; however, researchers say that speaking, coughing and sneezing generates larger droplets that carry virus particles. Because of this, mechanical engineer Taher Saif said the established knowledge may not be enough to determine the effectiveness of some fabrics used in homemade masks.

Saif, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, led a study that examined the effectiveness of common household fabrics in blocking droplets. The findings are published in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters.

Aerosol particles are typically classified as less than 5 micrometers, and lie in the range of hundreds of nanometers. However, larger droplets -- up to about 1 millimeter in diameter -- can also be expelled when an individual speaks, coughs or sneezes. These larger droplets pose a problem because, with sufficient momentum, they can squeeze through the pores of some fabrics, break into smaller droplets and become airborne.

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Homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19....

Beat Skin Cancer By Knowing Your Level of Exposure

type of skin cancerSkin cancer is a major health concern around the world. Millions are diagnosed with one of the various types of skin cancer each year. Most skin cancers are treatable, but melanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. The spread of melanoma may lead to death.

There are three major types of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanomas often develop from an existing mole on a person's skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is another common type of skin cancer. This type can spread across the skin and into the mucous membranes. Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on the exposed areas of the body. These skin cancers rarely spread, but they may become large and unsightly.

Doctors know that the main cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation such as that produced by the sun. In order to prevent skin cancer from developing, doctors highly recommend that anyone who is going out in the sun for a prolonged period of time wear sunscreen and that they reapply the sunscreen regularly throughout the day. People who have very fair skin should cover up as much as possible to avoid a sunburn which can lead to skin cancer development.

While these are quite well-known means of preventing skin cancer, researchers have now developed a new way to help beat skin cancer that lets people know their level of UV radiation exposure. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia along with a research team at the University of Granada have developed a bracelet that people can use when they go out in the sun.

This bracelet is made up of four emoticon faces. The faces are...

Better Painkillers made with Yeast

Better Painkillers Designed with Yeast

In Carmel Valley, a charming, rustic village located 11 miles inland of Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are a score of Monterey County wineries and tasting rooms, convenient to Carmel Valley home dwellers and tourists alike. The yeasts cultivated from wild strains have fermented wine from grapes or leavened bread from flour for thousands of years. Now cutting-edge Stanford research has taken yeast into the laboratory and reengineered it to produce modern plant-based painkilling medications.


In a recent breakthrough after a decade-long effort, Stanford scientists reprogrammed the genetic machinery of baker’s yeast so that it could convert sugar into the opioid compound hydrocodone within three to five days. Producing the opioid so rapidly could potentially speed access to lower cost medicines, especially for impoverished countries. The techniques they developed and demonstrated for opioid pain relievers can be adapted to produce many plant-derived compounds to fight and treat chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis, infectious diseases, and cancers.


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