What are they?
Why are they a concern?
Gas stations can pose significant hazards to people. As people fill up their gas tanks, diesel fuel or gasoline may drip from the nozzle onto the ground, and vapors may leak from the open gas tank into the air. This can lead to air pollution and soil pollution.
Air pollution is created when fuel evaporates, emitting toxic fumes, and when motor vehicles are running. Soil pollution can result when fuel that spills to the ground builds up and seeps into underlying soil and groundwater. This can contaminate local well water. Underground pipes or tanks that rust or leak can also release contaminants into surrounding areas.
Gasoline is highly flammable (easily set on fire).
People also risk exposure to toxic chemicals if a gas station has an auto repair or paint shop.
Who is at risk?
- People filling vehicle tanks at a gas station are at risk for exposure to diesel fuel or gasoline—either by breathing its vapors or by spilling it directly onto their skin.
- People who live or work near a gas station may be exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, soil, and drinking water.
- Children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung conditions such as asthma are at higher risk for harm.
What pollutants are of greatest concern?
- Gasoline contains harmful chemicals, including benzene, which causes cancer.
- Gasoline vapors contain volatile organic compounds, which harm human health and contribute to ozone pollution.
- Running motor vehicles produce carbon monoxide and particulate matter.
- Fuel leaking from underground storage tanks can contaminate groundwater.
- Mechanics working in auto repair or paint shops at gas stations use solvents, antifreeze, and lead products. They may work on vehicles that have asbestos in brakes or clutches.
Reduce your risk
- Do you live or work near a gas station?
- Do you use well water?
- Do you pump diesel fuel or gasoline?
- Routinely test your well water for chemical contamination.
- If your well water has high levels of chemicals, contact your local or state health agency or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information on how to reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
- Avoid spilling fuel when filling up your car.
- Wash your hands after pumping fuel, especially if you get it on your hands.
- Avoid breathing in fumes while pumping fuel or standing near a running motor vehicle.
- Children should not play near gas stations.