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CHEMINFO Record Number: 25
CCOHS Chemical Name: Gasoline

Automotive Gasoline
Motor Spirits
Natural Gasoline

Chemical Name French: Essence (Gazoline)
CAS Registry Number: 8006-61-9
Other CAS Registry Number(s): 86290-81-5 68425-31-0 68514-15-8 68606-11-1
UN/NA Number(s): 1203
RTECS Number(s): LX3300000
Chemical Family: Mixed hydrocarbons / petroleum hydrocarbon distillate
Molecular Formula: Complex. See Composition.
Structural Formula: Complex


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid with a characteristic odour. It may be dyed for recognition.

Odour Threshold:
0.12-0.15 ppm (recognition); 0.06-0.08 ppm (threshold) (1)

Warning Properties:
GOOD - TLV is more than 10 times the odour threshold.

This CHEMINFO record refers to common, commercial unleaded gasoline used for automotive purposes, unless otherwise specified. Gasoline is a complex mixture of petroleum hydrocarbons. The composition of the hydrocarbons depends on factors such as the origin of the crude oil used for refining and refining conditions. In general, the hydrocarbon groups consist of chains containing 4 to 12 carbons, and are mostly paraffins (alkanes), isoparaffins (isoalkanes), cycloparaffins (cycloalkanes) and aromatics. n-Hexane (1.5-3.0%) and benzene (0.5-2.0%) are normally present. In addition, trace or small amounts of additives and blending agents such as anti-knock compounds (MMT - methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl), anti-icing agents, anti-rust agents and metal deactivators can be found in gasoline. The chemical and physical properties of gasoline are highly variable depending on the specific product. As well, the hazards of gasoline are affected by the proportion of individual components. For example, gasoline containing a significant proportion of n-hexane may have toxic effects attributable to n- hexane. For information on specific components in gasoline consult the manufacturer or the appropriate CHEMINFO record.

Uses and Occurrences:
Fuel for motor vehicles; some use as diluent and solvent.


Colourless liquid with characteristic odour. May be dyed yellow. EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. Liquid can accumulate static charge by flow or agitation. Vapour is heavier than air and may spread long distances. Distant ignition and flash back are possible. Liquid can float on water and may spread to distant locations and/or spread fire. POSSIBLE CANCER HAZARD. May cause cancer, based on animal data. Central nervous system depressant. High vapour concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness and death. Aspiration hazard. Swallowing or vomiting of the liquid may result in aspiration into the lungs.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

Gasoline vapours can cause central nervous system (CNS) depression.(1) No significant effects except eye and throat irritation were seen in volunteers exposed for 30 minutes to concentrations as high as 1054 ppm, or for 8 hours to concentrations around 150-270 ppm.(6,7) Mild dizziness was experienced by volunteers exposed for 1 hour to 2600 ppm. Pronounced dizziness was experienced by volunteers after about 5 minutes exposure to about 1100 ppm.(6) Other CNS effects such as headache, lack of appetite, drowsiness and incoordination can occur. In one case, exposure for a few minutes to very high concentrations (above 5000 ppm) of aviation gasoline caused unconsciousness, pulmonary edema (a life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs) and death.(15)

Skin Contact:
When gasoline is NOT trapped against the skin and can freely evaporate, it is probably only mildly irritating or not irritating. However, case reports indicate that when gasoline is trapped against the skin (clothing is soaked in gasoline, skin is in contact with a puddle) for a long period (probably more than 30 minutes), serious burns and skin loss may occur. Absorption through the skin occurs, but is normally not significant.(1,8)

Eye Contact:
Irritation reported by volunteers exposed to vapour concentrations as low as 164 ppm for 30 minutes.(7) The liquid may cause temporary pain if splashed in the eye(s), but probably does not cause permanent damage. No significant irritation was observed in studies with rabbits.

Gasoline is moderately toxic if ingested. It may cause burning in the mouth, throat and chest as well as stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting and cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the fingertips, toes, lips and other extremities). Central nervous symptom depression, such as unconsciousness and coma, can occur. Inhalation of gasoline into the lungs (aspiration) can occur while gasoline is in the mouth, being swallowed or during vomiting. Aspiration often occurs when gasoline is siphoned by mouth. The aspiration of even a small amount (less than an ounce) of gasoline into the lungs is very hazardous and may cause death. Aspirated gasoline can cause chemical pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs) and/or pulmonary edema (a life- threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs).(1,11,12,13)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

EFFECTS ON THE SKIN: Repeated or prolonged contact can dry the skin (removes fat from skin) and cause cracking, irritation and dermatitis. Allergic reactions (hypersensitivity) have been reported but these are rare occurrences.(1,10)

EFFECTS ON THE BLOOD: There are reports of effects on the blood in gasoline tanker crewmen and painters who were exposed to gasoline.(5) These workers were probably exposed to other chemicals and therefore it is not possible to establish a causal relationship. However, benzene is known to cause harmful effects on the blood and may be present in gasoline in small amounts.

EFFECTS ON THE PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM: Gasoline is composed of different paraffins (alkanes) such as n-hexane. Prolonged and/or repeated exposure to n-hexane can cause irreversible damage to the peripheral nervous system. Whether or not exposure to gasoline can cause this effect depends on the presence of n- hexane and its concentration and on the degree and duration of exposure.

EFFECTS ON THE NEUROLOGICAL SYSTEM: Abuse of gasoline by inhalation of the vapours by so-called "sniffers" has resulted in many neurological effects. Dizziness, tremor, visual and auditory hallucinations, and loss of memory were symptoms reported in case studies of abusers who sniffed vapours sometimes daily for years.(16,17,18) These situations are not relevant to occupational exposures.

Effects on memory, intellectual capacity, psychomotor and learning ability were seen in attendants exposed to gasoline vapours at gas stations. The most significant effects were seen in attendants exposed for more than 5 years. Very little effect was seen in attendants with less than 1 year of exposure.(26) The exposure concentrations were not cited in the study. Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate the results.


The available human information is inadequate for evaluation because there is no detailed data concerning actual exposure to gasoline. Unleaded gasoline caused kidney cancers in male rats and liver cancers in female mice. Gasoline may contain known carcinogens (e.g. benzene, ethylene dibromide).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that this chemical is possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has designated this chemical as an animal carcinogen (A3).

The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not listed this chemical in its report on carcinogens.

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
No human information available. No effect seen in one rat study.

Reproductive Toxicity:
No information suitable for evaluation. There is a Russian study of women exposed to gasoline above the maximum permissible level which described effects on menstrual cycle, and childbearing and lactation functions were observed. Also, a number of newborns were malformed. The actual exposure concentration and the length of exposure were not cited and so this study is not suitable for evaluation.(25)

The bulk of the data indicate gasoline is not mutagenic or genotoxic. There was a positive effect seen in one in-vivo and one in-vitro test.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
Methyl ethyl ketone or methyl isobutyl ketone enhance the action of n-hexane. n-Hexane is one type of paraffin (alkane) found in gasoline.

Potential for Accumulation:
Inadequate information for evaluation.


This product is flammable. Take proper precautions (e.g. remove any source of ignition). Take proper precautions to ensure your own safety before attempting rescue; (e.g., wear appropriate protective equipment, use the "buddy" system). Remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air. If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration (AR), or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Immediately transport victim to an emergency care facility.

Skin Contact:
Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective clothing if necessary. Quickly and gently blot or brush away excess chemical quickly. Wash gently and thoroughly with water and non-abrasive soap for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. Under running water, remove contaminated clothing, shoes, and leather goods (e.g., watchbands, belts). If irritation persists, repeat flushing. Obtain medical advice immediately. Completely decontaminated clothing, shoes and leather goods before re-use or discard.

Eye Contact:
Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective clothing if necessary. Quickly and gently blot away chemical. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed, while holding the eyelid(s) open. Obtain medical advice immediately.

Never give anything by mouth if victim is rapidly losing consciousness, or is unconscious or convulsing. Have victim rinse mouth thoroughly with water. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Have victim drink 240 to 300 mL (8 to 10 oz.) of water. If vomiting occurs naturally, have victim lean forward to reduce risk of aspiration. Repeat administration of water. If breathing has stopped, trained personnel should begin artificial respiration (AR) or, if the heart has stopped, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediate. Quickly transport victim to an emergency care facility.

First Aid Comments:
Provide general supportive measures (comfort, warmth, rest). Consult a physician and/or the nearest Poison Control Centre for all exposures except minor instances of inhalation or skin contact. All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
-43 deg C (-45 deg F) (19); -38 deg C (-36 deg F) (19); -30 deg C (-22 deg F) (22)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
1.4% (19); 0.6% (21)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
7.6% (19); 8.0% (21)

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
257 deg C (495 deg F) (20); 280 deg C (536 deg F) (19,22); 400 deg C (750 deg F) (23); 456 deg C (853 deg F) (19)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Probably not sensitive. Stable material.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
Vapour can be readily ignited by static charge. Liquid can accumulate static charge by flow or agitation.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
Hydrocarbons, aromatics, oxides of nitrogen, lead and other trace elements, phenols, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Extremely flammable. Material will readily ignite at room temperature. Can release vapours that form explosive mixtures with air. Liquid can accumulate static charge by flow or agitation. Vapour can be ignited by static discharge. Vapour is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back to a leak or open container. Liquid can float on water and may travel to distant locations and/or spread fire. During a fire, irritating/toxic gases may be generated. Can accumulate in confined spaces, resulting in a toxicity and flammability hazard. Containers may explode in heat of fire.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical, foam, water spray or fog. Water may be ineffective, since it may not cool gasoline below its flash point.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or a protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous vapours and toxic decomposition products. Stop leak before attempting to put out the fire. If the leak cannot be stopped, and if there is no risk to the surrounding area, let the fire burn itself out. If the flames are extinguished without stopping the leak, vapours could form explosive mixtures with air and reignite.

Isolate materials not yet involved in the fire and protect personnel. Containers may explode in the heat of fire. Move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk. Otherwise, keep cooling streams of water on fire-exposed tanks or containers.

Water may be ineffective for fighting fires involving gasoline because of its low flash point, unless used under favourable conditions by experienced firefighters trained in fighting all types of flammable liquid fires. However, water can be used on low flash point liquids when applied as a spray to absorb heat and protect exposed material of structures. If a leak or spill has not ignited, use water spray to disperse the vapours and to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.

For a massive fire in a large area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles. If this is not possible, withdraw from fire area and allow fire to burn. Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety device or any discolouration of tank due to fire.

Do not enter without wearing specialized protective equipment suitable for the situation. Firefighter's normal protective clothing (Bunker Gear) will not provide adequate protection. Chemical resistant clothing (e.g. chemical splash suit) and positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) may be necessary.


NFPA - Health: 1 - Exposure would cause significant irritation, but only minor residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 3 - Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable, even under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: Average molecular weight of 108 (1); 72.5 (28)

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 3 mg/m3 (approximately)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: Variable. Less than -60 deg C (-76 deg F) (21)
Boiling Point: Range of about 50-200 deg C (122-392 deg F) (5)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.72 - 0.76 (water = 1).(28)
Solubility in Water: Insoluble
Solubility in Other Liquids: Completely soluble in ether, chloroform, ethanol and other petroleum solvents.
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not available; probably greater than 1
pH Value: Not applicable
Vapour Density: 2.5-3.7 (air=1) (calculated)
Vapour Pressure: Variable, but significant; 400-775 mm Hg at 20 deg C (1)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 100%
Evaporation Rate: Rapid; 4 (20); greater than 10 (21) (n-butyl acetate = 1)
Critical Temperature: Not available


Normally stable.

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does not occur

Incompatibility - Materials to Avoid:

NOTE: Chemical reactions that could result in a hazardous situation (e.g. generation of flammable or toxic chemicals, fire or detonation) are listed here. Many of these reactions can be done safely if specific control measures (e.g. cooling of the reaction) are in place. Although not intended to be complete, an overview of important reactions involving common chemicals is provided to assist in the development of safe work practices.

STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS - (e.g. peroxides, nitric acid and perchlorates) - can cause fire or explosion.

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
None reported

Conditions to Avoid:
Static discharge, friction, sparks, open flames, heat and other sources of ignition.

Corrosivity to Metals:
Non-corrosive to metals.


LD50 (oral, rat): 13.6 g/kg (2)

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): Greater than 5 g/kg (2)

Eye Irritation:

No irritation seen in rabbits in a standard Draize test.(2)

Skin Irritation:

Slightly irritating when tested on rabbits in a standard Draize test.(2)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Skin Contact:
No signs of toxicity, except mild skin irritation, seen in rabbits when 5 g/kg gasoline was applied to skin for 24 hours. However, when about 5.76 g/kg gasoline was applied to rabbit skin daily, for 10 days, weight loss, severe skin irritation, and kidney and liver effects were seen.(2)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

Kidney injury has been seen in male rats in a number of studies following exposure to concentrations as low as 30 ppm gasoline.(5) This effect has not been seen in other species such as mice, monkeys, dogs or female rats.(1,3,5) The effect on the male rat kidneys has been attributed to the binding of gasoline to a protein found in male rats.(27)

Skin Sensitization:
Did not cause an allergic reaction when tested on guinea pigs.(2)

Carcinogenic activity has been seen in rats and mice in lifetime exposure studies with gasoline vapour. A significant increase in kidney tumors were seen in male rats, but not females, exposed to 67, 292 or 2056 ppm gasoline vapour for 6 hours/day, 5 days/week for 103-113 weeks. A significant increase in liver tumors were seen in female mice, but not males, exposed in the same manner as rats.(4,5) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concludes that there is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity of unleaded gasoline in experimental animals.(5)

Teratogenicity, Embryotoxicity and/or Fetotoxicity:
No effects seen when rats were exposed to 400 or 1600 ppm for 6 hr/day during days 6 to 15 of pregnancy. Details of the study were not described so the validity of the results cannot be evaluated.(5)

Gasoline was not genotoxic in most of the whole animal tests (in-vivo) however, in one study a genotoxic effect (increased unscheduled DNA synthesis) was seen in mice given oral doses of gasoline.(5)
Not mutagenic in bacterial (Ames) tests or short-term (in-vitro) tests except in one cultured mouse lymphoma cell test.(5)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) Gasoline. Journal of Applied Toxicology. Vol. 9, no. 3 (June 1989). p. 203-210
(2) Beck, L.S., et al. The acute toxicology of selected petroleum hydrocarbons. Advances in modern environmental toxicology. Vol. 6. Applied Toxicology of Petroleum Hydrocarbons. Chapter 1 (1984). p. 1-16
(3) Kuna, R.A., et al. Subchronic inhalation toxicity of two motor fuels. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Vol. 3, no. 4 (Sept. 1984). p. 217-229
(4) MacFarland, H.M., et al. A chronic inhalation study with unleaded gasoline vapor. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Vol. 3, no. 4 (Sept. 1984). p. 231-248
(5) IARC Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Vol. 45. IARC, 1989. p. 159-201
(6) Drinker, P., et al. The threshold toxicity of gasoline vapor. Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Vol. 25, no. 6 (June 1943). p. 225-232
(7) Davis, A., et al. The effects on human volunteers of exposure to air containing gasoline vapor. Archives of Environmental Health. Vol. 1 (Dec. 1960). p. 92-98, 548-554
(8) Hunter, G.A. Chemical burns of the skin after contact with petrol. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. Vol. 21, no. 4 (Oct. 1968). p. 337-341
(9) Walsh, W.A., et al. Gasoline immersion burn. New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 291, no. 16 (Oct. 1974). p. 830
(10) Machle, W.F., et al. Gasoline dermatitis. Reprinted from the Medical Bulletin University of Cincinnati. p. 2-12. Publication date unknown.
(11) Nunn, J.A., et al. Gasoline and kerosine poisoning in children. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 103 (Aug. 1934). p. 472-474
(12) Sachs, A., et al. Pneumonitis resulting from gasoline. Nebraska State Medical Journal. Vol. 28, no. 4 (1943). p. 114- 115
(13) T.H. Lee., et al. Pneumonitis caused by petrol siphoning. The Lancet (July, 1979). p. 149
(14) Fieldner, A.C., et al. Permeation of oxygen breathing apparatus by gases and vapors. U.S. Bureau of Mines, Department of the Interior, Technical Paper No. 272 (Jan. 1921). p. 5-24
(15) Wang, C.C., et al. Acute gasoline intoxication. Archives of Environmental Health. Vol. 2 (Oct. 1960). p. 714-716
(16) Lawton Jr., J.J., et al. Gasoline addiction in children. Psychiatric Quarterly. Vol. 35, no. 3 (1961). p. 555-561
(17) Tolan, E.J., et al. "Model psychosis" produced by inhalation of gasoline fumes. American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol. 120 (Feb. 1964). p. 757-761
(18) Brown, N.W. Gasoline inhalation. Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia. Vol. 57, no. 5 (May 1968). p. 217-221
(19) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325
(20) Unleaded gasoline (Petro-Canada Inc). Printout from MSDS database 1990-02-01
(21) Unleaded gasoline (dyed or clear) (Esso Petroleum Canada). Printout from MSDS database 1991-07-16
(22) Premium unleaded gasoline (Shell Canada Products Limited). Printout from MSDS database 1988-12-15
(23) Gasoline regular unleaded (Sunoco Incorporated). Printout from MSDS database 1991-02-19
(24) Forsberg, K., et al. Quick selection guide to chemical protective clothing. 4th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2002
(25) Panova, Z. Menstrual and reproductive function and gynecological morbidity in women in occupational contact with gasoline. Letopisi Na Higienno-Epidemiologic Nata Slugba. Vol. 20, no. 1 (1976). p. 53-56
(26) Kumar, P., et al. Behavioral studies in petrol pump workers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. Vol. 61, nos. 1/2 (Oct. 1988). p. 35-38
(27) Gibson, J.E., et al. Current perspectives on gasoline (light hydrocarbon)-induced male rat nephropathy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 534 (1988). p. 481-485
(28) Document of the threshold limit values and biological exposure indices. 5th ed. ACGIH, 1986. p. 283
(29) NIOSH pocket guide to chemical hazards. NIOSH, June 1994. p. 150-151, 342
(30) European Communities. Commission Directive 96/54/EC. July 30, 1996
(31) European Communities. Commission Directive 94/69/EC. December 19, 1994

Information on chemicals reviewed in the CHEMINFO database is drawn from a number of publicly available sources. A list of general references used to compile CHEMINFO records is available in the database Help.

Review/Preparation Date: 1994-03-31

Revision Indicators:
Sampling 1996-01-01
Respiratory guideline 1995-08-01
CAS Number 1995-08-01
NFPA (health) 1995-08-01
NFPA (flammability) 1995-08-01
NFPA (reactivity) 1995-08-01
NFPA (comments) 1995-08-01
EU number 1998-10-01
EU class 1998-10-01
EU risk 1998-10-01
EU safety 1998-10-01
EU comments 1995-08-01
TLV-TWA 1996-09-01
TLV-STEL 1996-09-01
US Transport 1998-03-01
Resistance of materials 1998-05-01
TLV comments 1998-08-01
TDG 2002-05-27
Bibliography 2003-04-14
Flash point 2003-04-19
Autoignition temp 2003-04-19
Vapour density 2003-04-19
PEL-TWA final 2003-11-06
PEL-STEL final 2003-11-06
PEL-TWA transitional 2003-11-06
pH 2004-02-10
Other CAS No(s) 2004-02-19
Resistance of materials for PPE 2004-03-28

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