3M ramping up respirator production due to coronavirus

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At the 3M facility in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the production of respirators is ramping up.

3M says the masks protect you from breathing in small particles in the air that may be harmful.

Nikki McCullough is a global safety leader with 3M. She says using the respirators correctly is key.

"You want to use your fingers and really form the nose clip," she explained while putting the respirator on.

If you don’t … "The air is going to leak around any gaps and the particles will go right along with it right into your breathing zone," she said.

"Once it’s on, you cover it, and breath, and see if you feel any air leaking around the edges," McCullough explained.

At the time of the coronavirus outbreak in China, McCullough’s team was already working with crews in another part of the world needing respirators.

"When we first started realizing there was an unusual disease pattern coming out of China, we were already busy responding to the wildfires in Australia," she said.

In addition to natural disasters, she’s worked with teams responding to SARS, H1N1 and the ebola virus.

"I would say this is very much different because of the scale of the outbreak in China, and also the world is really understanding that this is something that could spread beyond China, so we see government and hospitals all around the world interested in preparing in case the outbreak might come to them," McCullough said.

3M has factories all over the world, which helps with distribution if those supply chains stay open and aren’t disrupted by the outbreak.

"We are monitoring our supply chain very, very closely so if we do, in the future, see any disruptions we are able to respond as fluidly as possible and get information to our customers if necessary," she said.