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J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2001 Jul-Sep;4(3):223-312.

A review of the neurotoxicity risk of selected hydrocarbon fuels.

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Geo-Centers, Inc., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA.


Over 1.3 million civilian and military personnel are occupationally exposed to hydrocarbon fuels, emphasizing gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, or kerosene. These exposures may occur acutely or chronically to raw fuel, vapor, aerosol, or fuel combustion exhaust by dermal, respiratory inhalation, or oral ingestion routes, and commonly occur concurrently with exposure to other chemicals and stressors. Hydrocarbon fuels are complex mixtures of 150-260+ aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon compounds containing varying concentrations of potential neurotoxicants including benzene, n-hexane, toluene, xylenes, naphthalene, and certain n-C9-C12 fractions (n-propylbenzene, trimethylbenzene isomers). Due to their natural petroleum base, the chemical composition of different hydrocarbon fuels is not defined, and the fuels are classified according to broad performance criteria such as flash and boiling points, complicating toxicological comparisons. While hydrocarbon fuel exposures occur typically at concentrations below permissible exposure limits for their constituent chemicals, it is unknown whether additive or synergistic interactions may result in unpredicted neurotoxicity. The inclusion of up to six performance additives in existing fuel formulations presents additional neurotoxicity challenge. Additionally, exposures to hydrocarbon fuels, typically with minimal respiratory or dermal protection, range from weekly fueling of personal automobiles to waist-deep immersion of personnel in raw fuel during maintenance of aircraft fuel tanks. Occupational exposures may occur on a near daily basis for from several months to over 20 yr. A number of published studies have reported acute or persisting neurotoxic effects from acute, subchronic, or chronic exposure of humans or animals to hydrocarbon fuels, or to certain constituent chemicals of these fuels. This review summarizes human and animal studies of hydrocarbon fuel-induced neurotoxicity and neurobehavioral consequences. It is hoped that this review will support ongoing attempts to review and possibly revise exposure standards for hydrocarbon fuels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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