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Caution to Oxygen Users
        

Oxygen safe products  October 14, 2008
Kent L. Christopher, MD,RRT, FCCP, FAARC

I have questions about products that can be used while using oxygen.
The sheet states "Never use petroleum based products (eg, vaseline,
vicks, chapstick and creams or lotions, etc.) when handling oxygen
equipment. Use water based products on your face and hands."

I understand about vaseline and chapstick but I don't know which creams
or lotions should be avoided. For example, one ointment for dry,
cracked skin contains mineral oil, lanolin and several other mystery
ingredients.  What about sunscreens and hand creams?

Can users of these products suggest which ones they use safely and
which to avoid?

It is nearly impossible to read the fine print (almost looks like dots)
on most labels while standing in the store.

Reply:  Remember that chronic use of petroleum products such as Vaseline in the nose can cause lipoid pneumonia documented by lipoid bodies within WBCs.

A negative bench test with O2 should not encourage use by LTOT patients, as there are other health risks. There is an abundance of readily available petroleum-free products, and that should be the message to patients with dry nasal vestibules from LTOT use, particularly with high flows and/or dry climates.

Now do non-petroleum products make a clinically significant difference in objective or subjective findings in patients, particularly with high flows and/or dry climates?  That is another question.

Caution to Oxygen Users Feb 5, 08

Earlier today, I noticed a couple postings at COPD-ALERT about using hand sanitizers. I would like to offer a respectful reminder to oxygen users regarding the use of products which could be flammable in close proximity to oxygen equipment. My comments are not specific to any specific brand or type of product - this applies to anything that fits the general description of flammable.

Please don't be overly alarmed by my comments - I am merely suggesting prudent precautions to avoid the hazardous effects of placing your oxygen too close to flammable or combustible materials.

It is also good to remember that oxygen by itself is NOT flammable. But if you place combustible materials in an environment that is oxygen-enriched, the potential for fire is greatly enhanced.

For example, one commonly used hand sanitizer is 62% ethyl alcohol. A bottle of this product contains a WARNING that it is flammable and should be kept away from fire. If you use such a flammable product around oxygen (or oxygen equipment) one needs to be aware of a significantly increased risk of fire. Any ignition source (flame, spark, etc.) could cause a flammable product to burn much more violently in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere, than it normally would in room air.

About two weeks ago, there was an accidental oxygen-related fire in a hospital nursery in Minneapolis, MN, where I live. According to local news reports, the fire was extinguished within a few seconds by a couple nurses who were standing right there when it happened. Tragically, a newborn baby suffered serious burns during those few seconds before the fire was extinguished. According to happier news reports, the baby is recovering. But this was a frightening reminder of how quickly an oxygen-fueled fire can do damage. If the nurses had not been standing next to the baby when the fire erupted......the outcome would have been
even more terrifying.

So please be cautious when using products around your oxygen equipment. Things like hand sanitizers, creams, lotions, or ointments might be soothing - but they could also be hazardous in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere. Remember the old adage....."An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure". It is especially true in this case.

Terry deBruyn, RRT
Nonin Medical, Inc.

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