Gasoline is dangerous for your health because it’s toxic.
Exposure to gasoline, either through physical contact or inhalation, can cause
health problems. The effects of gasoline poisoning can harm every major organ.
It’s important to practice and enforce safe gasoline handling to prevent
Inappropriate gasoline exposure warrants a call for emergency
medical help. Call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222
if you believe you or someone you know has gasoline poisoning.
Symptoms of gasoline poisoning
Swallowing gasoline can cause a wide range of problems for vital
organs. Symptoms of gasoline poisoning may include:
- difficulty breathing
- throat pain or burning
- burning in the esophagus
- abdominal pain
- vision loss
- vomiting with or without blood
- bloody stools
- severe headaches
- extreme fatigue
- body weakness
- loss of consciousness
When gasoline comes into contact with your skin, you may
experience red irritation or burns.
Causes of gasoline poisoning
Gasoline is a necessity in many industries. Gas is the primary
fuel used to make most engine-powered vehicles work. The hydrocarbon components
of gasoline make it poisonous. Hydrocarbons are a type of organic substance
made up of hydrogen and carbon molecules. They are part of all sorts of modern
substances, including the following:
- motor oil
- lamp oil
- rubber cement
- lighter fluid
Gasoline contains methane and benzene, which are dangerous
Perhaps one of the greatest risks of gasoline exposure is the
harm it can do to your lungs when you inhale its fumes. 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
Pumping gasoline into your gas tank isn’t generally harmful.
However, accidental liquid exposure can harm your skin.
Accidental gasoline consumption is far more widespread than
intentionally swallowing the liquid.
Gasoline can adversely affect your health in both liquid and gas
form. Swallowing gasoline can damage the inside of your body and cause
permanent damage to major organs. If a person swallows a large amount of
gasoline, it can cause death.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is of particular concern. This is
especially the case if you work at a job where you operate gasoline-powered
machines on a regular basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), small, gas-powered engines are especially harmful because
they emit more poisons. Carbon monoxide is both invisible and odorless, so you
may breathe it in large quantities without even knowing it. This can cause
permanent brain damage and even death.
Gasoline has health consequences that can last several years. Diesel
is another fuel containing hydrocarbons. It’s a byproduct of gasoline, and it’s
used primarily in trains, buses, and farm vehicles. When you regularly come
into contact with fumes from gasoline or diesel, your lungs may start to
deteriorate over time. A 2012 study by the World
Health Organization (WHO) found an increased risk of lung cancer in people
who are regularly exposed to diesel fumes.
As diesel engines gain popularity because of their energy
efficiency, people need to be more aware of their dangers. You should follow
these safety measures:
- Don’t stand by exhaust pipes.
- Don’t stand around gas fumes.
- Don’t operate engines in enclosed areas.
Getting emergency help
Swallowing gasoline or excessive exposure to fumes warrants a
visit to the emergency room or a call to a local poison control center. Make
sure the person sits up and drinks water unless instructed not to do so. Ensure
they’re in an area with fresh air.
Be sure to take these precautions:
Outlook for someone who has been poisoned by gasoline
The outlook for gasoline poisoning depends on the amount of
exposure and how quickly you get treatment. The faster you get treatment, the
more likely you are to recover without significant injury. However, gasoline
exposure always has the potential to cause problems in the lungs, mouth, and
Gasoline has undergone many changes to become less carcinogenic, but
there are still major health risks associated with it. Always act with care
when exposed to liquid gasoline and gasoline fumes. If you suspect any exposure
to the skin or if you think an excess amount has been inhaled, you should call the
American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222.