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Respiratory Therapist/Mild chest pain after smoke?


Just wanted some tips on after care after outing a paper burning fire.

I had a lot of documents I wanted to get rid of yesterday, I realise I should of got a shredder but wanted rid of them there and then, so I nabbed my steel bin dragged it into the kitchen and dumped the papers inside and cremated them. Sadly I forgot to remove the bin bag attached to the outside, it melted, and while I was confident with controlling the burning I had completely overlooked that there would be smoke, and there was A LOT of it, having finished and aired out the room it still smells like smoke, it also has an acrid odor and a yellow residue on a lot of the surfaces, I didn't smell much better at the time and the left side of my chest hurts a little (it's a similar sensation you get to when you feel something stuck in your throat--only in my chest.

Anyway while I look into getting a shredder are there any health and safety actions and precautions I should be taking, especially with regards to ridding the smell, approaching removing that yellow residue and the chest discomfort. I know the question may be bordeline within your field but based on your knowledge thought it was worth asking.

Hello Anna,

My first reaction in terms of precautions is to say...never, ever, ever, ever, ever burn things INSIDE your house...that is just asking for injury, property damage and possibly never-ending odor left behind.  This can make your home very difficult to sell in the future should you decide to move some day. For a couple years I worked in a hospital that specializes in burn injuries and smoke inhalation and the patients were almost ALWAYS victims of an easily preventable injury.

If possible, keep your windows open as long as possible to air out your home, and WHENEVER being around a controlled-burn fire or when cleaning burnt material inside a confined area like a home/kitchen, ALWAYS wear a professional-grade respirator mask (they only cost a few pounds for a package of 20-30 of them), such as this one...
(copy and paste the link if it does not directly link you)

I am not 100% sure of what product to use to clean the yellow residue, but I would assume a cannister of NON-BLEACH disinfectant wipes would work - pure bleach might strip the finish off wood surfaces. After using the wipes, go back and re-wipe everything down with a wet towel or paper towels, then go back and dry everything off with a dry towel. Repeat as needed.

As for the chest discomfort, has it resolved yet, or is it still there?

I hope this helps!

Larry W, RRT

Respiratory Therapist

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Larry W. Wical, BA-RRT


I CAN answer: ALL questions and queries related to the following topics... - Oxygen - Asthma - COPD - Bronchitis - Emphysema - Pneumonia (Viral/Bacterial) - Tuberculosis (TB) - SARS - Influenza (Flu) - Vaccines - Pulmonary Embolism - Pleural Effusion - Atelectasis - Inhalation injuries (burns, chemicals, etc.) - PFTs - Cardiovascular health - Sleep Apnea - BiPap/CPAP - Ventilators ("Respirators") - Aspiration injuries - Thoracic injuries - Lung contusions - Tracheal injuries - Artificial Tracheostomy - Secretions - Prolotherapy/Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT): A patient's experience/perspective - General health and fitness I CANNOT answer: Questions that vary too far from my primary scope of pulmonary and cardiovascular care and fitness. I promise to be open and honest about my knowledge of submitted topics, and will always openly provide my personal as well as professional feedback as it relates.


Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT, RCP) since 2005. I have worked primarily in the acute care, critical care, burn care and home care settings.

NBRC - National Board of Respiratory Care AARC - American Association of Respiratory Care

-All About Kids Magazine -The Clermont Sun -Cincy Sports & Fitness Magazine -Many online Fitness and Health blogs and "webazines"

- B.A. in Communication (1997) - A.A.S. in Respiratory Science (2005) - RRT license (state of OH, KY and IN) - Basic Life Saving (BLS) - Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) - Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS)

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Currently work in the city's largest academic/research hospital.

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