Synonyms: Barbecue lighter fluid, jet fuel, kerosene, lamp oil, No. 1 fuel oil, paraffin.

Description: Kerosines are white to yellow, combustible, low viscosity liquids consisting of C9 to C16 hydrocarbons, the composition depending on the crude source and the process conditions. The typical distillation range is from 145 to 300�C. Kerosines are mainly used for blending aviation fuels and as domestic or industrial heating fuels. One particular application is as barbecue lighter fluid. Some kerosines are also used as solvents in the formulation of a wide range of products (e.g. cleaning products, insecticides, antifoams, mould release agents).

Toxicology/health aspects: Toxicity data show that kerosines are of a low order of toxicity following acute oral, dermal or inhalation exposure. Signs commonly observed in studies in animals after exposure to high doses (hypoactivity, ataxia and prostration) are indicative of central nervous system depression. Some kerosines may cause skin irritation following short-term exposure and may be slightly irritating to the eyes. An additional, potentially serious hazard with kerosines, is the possibility of high pressure injection through the skin. This can cause considerable damage to underlying tissues, even though surface effects may be minimal. [Also see information on high pressure injection on page 59.]

Principal routes of exposure: In normal use, the main route of exposure to kerosine is likely to be by skin contact. There is no significant risk of exposure to vapour during the normal handling of kerosine, as it has low volatility at ambient temperature.

Principal sources of exposure: Prolonged skin exposure is likely to occur particularly in applications where kerosines are used as solvents. A combination of use in confined spaces and at elevated temperatures may result in the build-up of high concentrations of kerosine vapour. The spray application of products containing kerosine will result in exposure to high concentrations of kerosine consisting of a mixture of vapour and mist.


Administration of liquid medicinal paraffin or activated charcoal may be used to reduce the speed of absorption through the digestive tract. Gastric lavage should only be done after endotracheal intubation in view of the risk of aspiration which can cause serious chemical pneumonitis.

Kerosines may have an irritating effect on skin and eyes. Frequent or prolonged contact may remove from the skin the natural protective fats and cause irritation and dermatitis.

References: CONCAWE (1994) Kerosines/jet fuels. Product Dossier No. 94/106. Brussels: CONCAWE

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