If you choose to use this technique, be aware that several health care organizations have erroneously interpreted the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1996 edition of the Standard for Health Care Facilities to mean that any petroleum-based product presents a fire hazard in the presence of oxygen.3 Fortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did laboratory testing on this very question in the 1960s. Its report, published by the Civil Aeromedicine Research Institute, found that “a large margin of safety exists in using hydrocarbon face, lip, and hair preparations in the presence of 100 percent oxygen at or below one atmosphere (760 mm Hg).”4 The report went on to list the physical properties of commonly used products, including ChapStick, in the presence of 100 percent oxygen. It found that the combustibility of these types of products was comparable to normal skin oils at pressures at or near one atmosphere. The FAA allows pilots using oxygen in flight to wear cosmetics or use lip balm.5 It is reasonable to assume that it is safe for our patients as well.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 33 – No 04 – April 2014
Dr. Mell is clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Illinois at Urbana. He is the EMS Medical Director for EmCare’s North Division, EMS Assurance, the Newark (OH) Division of Fire, and Ohio Ambulance.
- Prescott J, Wilkie J. Pain tolerance selectively increased by a sweet-smelling odor. Psychol Sci. 2007;18:308-11.
- Bartolo M, Serrao M, Gamgebeli Z, et al. Modulation of the human nociceptive flexion reflex by pleasant and unpleasant odors. Pain. 2013;154:2054-2059.
- Winslow E, Jacobson A. Dispelling the petroleum jelly myth. Am J Nurs. 1998;98:16RR.
- Dille JR, Crane CR. The flammability of lip, face and hair preparations in the presence of 100 percent oxygen. Rep 62-27. Rep Civ Aeromed Res Inst US. 1963;Nov:1-5.
- Oxygen equipment use in general aviation operations. Federal Aviation Administration Web site. Available at: www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/Oxygen_Equipment.pdf. Accessed February 7, 2014.