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What is Propane?

Propane is a gas or liquid that is highly flammable. It is the main component of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Propane is used in outdoor grills, hot water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, spas, and swimming pools; for lighting and heating; and in stoves. It is also used as a refrigerant, solvent, and aerosol propellant.

When propane is burned, it releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

See also: Vehicles and Engines Gas Station Food and Cooking Fuel Industry Agriculture

Where is Propane found?

  • Consumer products - outdoor grills, hot water heaters, spas, swimming pools, lighting fixtures, heating units, and stoves
  • Air – emissions from outdoor grills, appliances, and heaters

How can I be exposed to Propane?

Propane commonly enter(s) the body through:


Ingestion (swallowing)

  • Swallowing liquid propane

Inhalation (breathing)

  • Breathing fumes from appliances or equipment fueled by propane

Skin contact

  • Touching liquid propane

What happens when I am exposed to Propane?

Exposure to propane can cause:

  • Suffocation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Slow or difficult breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Convulsions
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death by asphyxiation

Touching liquid propane can cause frostbite.

Exposure to high levels of propane can cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Who is at risk for exposure to Propane?

  • Consumers
    • Burns from grills, appliances, and heaters that are fueled with propane.

Reduce your risk

If you think your health has been affected by exposure to propane, 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 cook on an outdoor propane grill?
  • Do you have appliances or equipment that use propane fuel?
  • Keep flammable materials away from flames that originate from your appliances.
  • Know how to shut off the gas supply from your propane tank.
  • Never place your head near or directly over the valves on your propane tank.
  • Avoid skin or eye contact with liquid propane.
  • Never store propane cylinders or containers inside an enclosed building. Store in a cool, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight, and away from heat and ignition sources.
  • If you smell propane gas, you may have a leak in your tank. If you can safely shut off the main gas supply on the tank, do so, and then leave the area. Contact your local propane supplier immediately if you suspect a leak or call 911.
  • All appliances should be installed, properly vented, and repaired by qualified technicians.

National Library of Medicine Resources and Databases

Additional Resources

  • Propane
    US Energy Information Administration
    Information on propane from a web resource about energy for middle school students and teachers. This entry addresses natural gas or oil, uses, and associated environmental issues.
  • Home Safe Home. Propane Safety Tips for the Home
    Railroad Commission of Texas
    Resource that provides tips on how to use propane equipment safely in a home environment.
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