Health Care and Gasoline

- January 22, 2014
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In case you don’t know, gasoline is a dangerous and highly flammable liquid that can have some devastating effects on your health if improperly used. Knowing the right way to handle gasoline and the awareness of its potential hazards is critical to having not only respect for the liquid itself, but also the best way to counter any threats to your overall health.

Gasoline is a complex mixture of over 500 hydrocarbons that may have between 5 and 12 carbons. Smaller amounts of alkane cyclic and aromatic compounds are also present. Virtually no alkenes or alkynes are present in gasoline, according to Elmhurst College.

Gasoline is most often produced by the fractional distillation of crude oil, which is separated into fractions according to different boiling points of hydrocarbons of varying chain lengths. This fractional distillation process yields approximately 25% of straight-run gasoline from each barrel of crude oil.

According to HealthLine, gasoline is considered dangerous for your health because it is poisonous. Exposure to gas—either through physical contact or inhalation—can cause health problems. The effects of gasoline poisoning can harm every part of the body. It is important to practice and enforce safe gas handling to prevent poisoning. Inappropriate gasoline exposure warrants a call for emergency medical help. Swallowing gasoline can cause a wide range of problems to vital organs. Symptoms of gasoline poisoning may include:

·         breathing difficulties
·         throat pain
·         burning in the esophagus
·         abdominal pain
·         vision loss
·         vomiting (with blood)
·         bloody stools
·         dizziness
·         severe headaches
·         extreme fatigue
·         convulsions
·         body weakness
·         unconsciousness
When gasoline comes into contact with your skin, you may experience red irritation or burns. Perhaps one of the greatest risks of gasoline is the harm it can do to your lungs when fumes are inhaled. Direct inhalation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why you shouldn’t run a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. Long-term exposure in the open can also damage your lungs. Pumping gasoline into your gas tank isn’t generally harmful. However, accidental liquid exposure can harm your skin. Accidental gasoline consumption is far more prevalent than intentionally swallowing the liquid. Much more info can be found at this site: .

Gasoline can easily enter your body when you breathe in air or drink water that is contaminated with gasoline. No information is available on how much gasoline enters your body when it gets on your skin. When products like gasoline get on your skin, however, they enter your body more slowly than when they are taken into your mouth. Some of the chemicals in gasoline, such as benzene, are expected to penetrate the skin more easily than some of the other chemicals in gasoline, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most of the gasoline that you breathe in or swallow is breathed out unchanged, but some of it can enter your blood rapidly. Gasoline in your blood travels throughout your body. When the chemicals in gasoline reach your liver, they are changed into several different chemical substances. Most of these new substances travel in your blood until they reach your kidneys and then leave your body in urine. However, some of the new substances formed in the liver do not leave your body as rapidly, according to the CDC. More info can be found at this site:

According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health, immediately or shortly after breathing a high amount of gasoline, a person may experience nose or lung irritation, feel dizzy or have a headache. When swallowed, gasoline will cause stomach irritation. Drinking gasoline or inhaling concentrated vapors can result in death. The following health effects can occur after several yearsof exposure to low levels of gasoline in air or in water:

1.    Organ Systems: People can experience damaged nervous system or lungs.

2.    Cancer: There is no evidence that exposure to gasoline causes cancer in humans. However, long term exposure to high levels of benzene, a component of gasoline, may increase a person's risk of leukemia.

More info about this subject is available at this website:

According to the New York Times, if someone has gasoline poisoning, the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions. Or, you can call 911 if you have an immediate emergency. The NPCC is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible. More details can be found at this website:

Not only is gasoline poisonous, it is highly flammable and can cause serious injury due to burns if you accidentally catch on fire. According to this site by the National Fire Protection Association, here are some safety tips:

--Keep gasoline out of children's sight and reach. Children should never handle gasoline.

--If fire does start while handling gasoline, do not attempt to extinguish the fire or stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately, and call for help.

--Do not use or store gasoline near possible ignition sources (i.e., electrical devices, oil- or gas-fired appliances, or any other device that contains a pilot flame or a spark).

--Store gasoline outside the home (i.e., in a garage or lawn shed) in a tightly closed metal or plastic container approved by an independent testing laboratory or the local or state fire authorities. Never store gasoline in glass containers or non-reusable plastic containers (i.e., milk jugs).

--Store only enough gasoline necessary to power equipment and let machinery cool before refueling it.

--Never use gasoline inside the home or as a cleaning agent.

--Clean up spills promptly and discard clean-up materials properly.

--Do not smoke when handling gasoline.

--Never use gasoline in place of kerosene.

--Use caution when fueling automobiles. Do not get in and out of the automobile when fueling. Although rare, an electrical charge on your body could spark a fire, especially during the dry winter months.

--Only fill portable gasoline containers outdoors. Place the container on the ground before filling and never fill containers inside a vehicle or in the bed of a pick-up truck.

--Follow all manufacturers’ instructions when using electronic devices (those with batteries or connected to an electrical outlet) near gasoline.

Gasoline related burns are a significant cause of thermal injuries each year in the United States, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). Most victims are male with a mean age of 27 years; average burn size was 25% total body surface area. The majority (59%) of gasoline-related burns are the result of inappropriate or unsupervised use of gasoline. The general public is largely unaware of the dangers of gasoline, and further education in this area is needed.

If you think your health has been affected by exposure to gasoline or gasoline additives, contact your health care professional. Be careful around this toxic chemical. It has long lasting effects if you have extended exposure to it, or if you have an accident. BE CAREFUL!

Until next time.
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