Dear Mr Roman,

3M manufactures some of the best respirators in the world. The Aura N95/FFP2/FFP3 medical mask and particulate respirator models are firm favorites with members of the John Snow Project, a volunteer group of frontline healthcare workers and scientists who are dedicated to providing accurate information about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

As you and your colleagues are undoubtedly aware, respirators have been demonstrated to be at least 100 times more effective than surgical masks at preventing viral transmission1. When used in clinical settings, respirators have been shown to be wholly effective at protecting people from infection2-4. It’s no wonder respirators are used in research and clinical settings that are serious about preventing infection by harmful airborne pathogens. 

We have one suggestion to improve 3M’s product offering:

There is a sizeable community of consumers who are cautious about COVID-19, and that community is likely to grow over the coming years as people experience the harms of reinfection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus5. The CDC estimates that as many as 23 million people are already living with the long-term impacts of COVID-196 and that number will increase as repeat infection exposes people to more potential harm7-9. We are often told that COVID-19 is here to stay, and so is the community of people who would like to do as much as possible to avoid the short and long-term harms of infection.

While white respirators are the obvious color of choice for industrial, scientific or clinical settings, social media is abuzz with people clamoring for highly effective black respirators. A quick search of your products on Amazon shows their popularity with end consumers and gives some indication of potential demand.

White respirators stand out in social settings and darker skinned people, especially women, tell us that they are negatively targeted for wearing them because they stand out too much. The deployment of a black respirator that matches more outfits and which has an inherently higher status as a fashion item might increase respirator usage and make it a more desirable status symbol. People can look good while protecting their health and the health of those around them.

There are manufacturers who produce black N95 respirators, but none of them perform as well as 3M products on fit tests, and we know our community would welcome the addition of black 3M respirators to the market.

We hope you will consider expanding 3M’s product line in this direction and look forward to supporting such products when they are brought to market.

Yours sincerely,

The John Snow Project