The Main Components of Kerosene are Branched- and Straight-Chain Alkanes : A Part from the Book Chapter : Kerosene: Use, Misuse and Clinical Implication of Repeated Exposure

kerosene toxicity

Internet databases were searched including PUBMED; Yahoo; Google and Google Scholar. The search words that were used included: Kerosene use; Kerosene misuse; and Clinical implications of repeated exposure to Kerosene. Seventy-four (74) references were identified which were used to write the ensuing article under various sub-sections.

2.1 Sources of Toxic Exposure  

The main components of kerosene are branched- and straight-chain alkanes (hydrocarbon chains) and naphthenes (cycloalkanes). Also present are aromatic hydrocarbons such as alkylbenzenes (single ring) and alkylnaphthalenes (double ring) as well as olefins. These fractions have been established to have highly toxic or carcinogenic effects directly on humans. Such toxic or carcinogenic effects have also been documented indirectly through the consumption of marine products. The findings of Rothman et al.; also seem to confirm such concerns, especially as the results of their studies showed that both occupationally and domestically exposed individuals to petroleum products have been adversely affected in one way or the other. Meanwhile, Campbell et al. reported that human responses (both physiological and biochemical) to acute exposure to petroleum products are mainly transient and short-lived unless the concentrations of the components are unusually high.

Author(s) Details:

Ayobola Abolape Iyanda
Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Health Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osogbo, Nigeria.

John I. Anetor
Department of Chemical Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Also See :

Recent Global Research Developments in the Toxicological Effects of Kerosene Components on Human Health: A Review

Kerosene Inhalation and Tracheal Condensation:

  • A study investigated the absorption dynamics of petroleum fuel components from autopsy samples. High-boiling point components tend to be retained in the trachea, while relatively lower-boiling point components are detected predominantly in the tracheal gas phase and blood [1].
  • This research sheds light on the distribution of kerosene components within the body after inhalation.

Jet Fuels and Health Effects:

  • Over 2 million military and civilian personnel are occupationally exposed to kerosene-based jet fuels (such as JP-8, JP-8+100, JP-5, Jet A, and Jet A-1). These fuels contain complex mixtures of hydrocarbons, including potential toxicants like benzene, n-hexane, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • While there’s little epidemiological evidence for severe health effects, self-reported complaints justify further study of subtle consequences [2] .

Other Studies:

  • Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), including kerosene-related emissions, has been linked to neurological risks such as Parkinson’s disease and memory deficits [3] .
  • Mechanistic studies explore how kerosene may inflict adverse health effects[4] .


  1. Takei, S., Kinoshita, H., Kawahara, S. et al. Kerosene condenses in the trachea following inhalation. Forensic Toxicol (2024).
  2. Ritchie, G., Still, K., Rossi Iii, J., Bekkedal, M., Bobb, A., & Arfsten, D. (2003). Biological and health effects of exposure to kerosene-based jet fuels and performance additives. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 6(4), 357-451.
  3. Garcia, A., Santa-Helena, E., De Falco, A. et al. Toxicological Effects of Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Health Risks and Associated Systemic Injuries—Systematic Review. Water Air Soil Pollut 234, 346 (2023).
  4. Maiyoh GK, Njoroge RW, Tuei VC. Effects and mechanisms of kerosene use-related toxicity. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2015 Jul;40(1):57-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.etap.2015.05.010. PMID: 26063683.

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