By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A new study shows that neck gaiters are not only ineffective as protective masks, they could actually be worse than not wearing a mask at all.

Finding a mask that fits, is comfortable and that you can breathe well in is not always easy, but new research shows neck gaiters, popular with athletes, are not effective and may even be harmful.

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Dr. Jennifer Preiss, internal medicine doctor and pediatrician with AGH, says the Duke University study found the neck gaiter material is extremely thin.

“The gaiter mask must do something to the particles as they come out of your mouth, makes them tinier, more aerosolized, which means they stay in the air for a longer period of time,” Dr. Priess says.

That means any coronavirus particles could stay in the air longer.

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The study also found bandannas are not effective.

But common cloth masks performed about as well as surgical masks.

“There are cloth masks that you can actually even put a filter in, and honestly, a coffee filter works perfectly. So you can take it out, wash your mask, and put it back in again,” Dr. Piress says.

Researchers suggest masks should have 2 or 3 layers.

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And the easiest way to tell if the fabric is too thin — if you can look through it or blow through it easily, it’s probably not protecting anyone.

Kristine Sorensen