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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS WHERE YOU LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY

Gasoline

What is it?

Gasoline is a clear or pale brown, highly flammable liquid. It contains more than 150 other chemicals, including benzene, toluene, and sometimes lead.

Gasoline is used as a fuel for internal combustion engines in cars, some trucks, lawn mowers, motorized equipment, and other vehicles.

Burning gasoline releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

See also: Boats and Ships Vehicles and Engines Air Pollution Fuel Industry Gas Station Cancer Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease

Where is Gasoline found?

  • Consumer products – fuel for cars and lawn mowers

How can I be exposed to Gasoline?

Gasoline commonly enter(s) the body through:

Eating
Ingestion (swallowing)
  • Drinking water contaminated with gasoline
Inhalation
Inhalation (breathing)
  • Breathing vapors at a gas station, when using vehicles or equipment that runs on gasoline, or when intentionally “sniffing” gasoline vapors
Touching
Skin contact
  • Touching gasoline or soil contaminated with gasoline

What happens to when I am exposed to Gasoline?

Most of the harmful health effects are due to the chemicals in gasoline, such as benzene and lead.

Short-term:
Short-term exposure to gasoline can cause:

  • Harmful effects on the nervous system
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Skin contact with gasoline can cause:

  • Skin irritation

Long-term exposure or exposure to high levels:

Inhaling or swallowing large amounts of gasoline can cause:

  • Possibly fatal damage to organs, including the lungs
  • Coma
  • Inability to breathe
  • Irritation of the stomach lining
  • Irritation of the lungs
  • Harmful effects on the nervous system

Who is at risk for exposure to Gasoline?

  • Consumers
    • Gasoline is fuel for cars, lawn mowers, and other motorized equipment.

Reduce your risk

If you think your health has been affected by exposure to gasoline, contact your health care professional.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling chemicals. For poisoning emergencies or questions about possible poisons, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • Do you pump gasoline?
  • Do you use well water?
  • Do you have a gasoline-powered lawn mower?
  • Routinely test well water for gasoline.
  • If your well water has high levels of gasoline, contact your local or state health agency or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on how to correct the problem.
  • If you suspect that your water supply is contaminated with gasoline, do not drink it. Consider using bottled water for drinking and cooking, use a water treatment unit certified to remove gas chemicals, or connect to a public water supply.
  • If your water supply is contaminated, shower or wash in cooler water, and wash and rinse clothes in cold water.
  • Pump gas carefully to avoid breathing the fumes.
  • Avoid using equipment that runs on gasoline, such as a gas-powered lawn mower.
  • Avoid being close to where gasoline has spilled or leaked into the soil.
  • Avoid skin contact with gasoline.  If you get gasoline on your skin, wash hands thoroughly.
  • Don’t let children play near gas stations.
  • Keep children away from gasoline products.
National Library of Medicine Resources and Databases
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