Gasoline Patient Information

What is gasoline?
At room temperature, gasoline is a clear liquid that contains a mixture of hydrocarbons (from crude oil) with a variety of substances added to improve its performance as a fuel. It is used as a fuel in cars, trucks, and light aircraft.

What immediate health effects can be caused by exposure to gasoline?
Breathing gasoline vapor can cause headache, nausea, and dizziness. Extremely high levels can cause fainting and even death. Gasoline in the air can also irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Gasoline splashed in the eyes can cause eye injury. When liquid gasoline contacts the skin, it may cause redness and blisters. Generally, the more serious the exposure, the more severe the symptoms.

Can gasoline poisoning be treated?
There is no antidote for gasoline, but its effects can be treated and most exposed persons get well. Persons who have experienced serious symptoms may need to be hospitalized.

Are any future health effects likely to occur?
A single small exposure from which a person recovers quickly is not likely to cause delayed or long-term effects. Repeated exposure to very high levels of gasoline can cause poor appetite, weakness, and even brain or kidney damage. Gasoline contains benzene and other additives that may cause future health problems after repeated, high-level exposures.

What tests can be done if a person has been exposed to gasoline?
Specific tests for the presence of gasoline in blood generally are not useful to the doctor. If a severe exposure has occurred, blood and urine analyses and other tests may show whether the nervous system, heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs have been damaged. Testing is not needed in every case.

Where can more information about gasoline be found?
More information about gasoline can be obtained from yourregional poison control center; your state, county, or local health department; the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); your doctor; or a clinic in your area that specializes in occupational and environmental health. If the exposure happened at work, you may wish to discuss it with your employer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Visit our Regulatory Agencies page to find contact information for the aforementioned government agencies.

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