Petroleum Products

Environmental Exposure from Industrial Operations and Facilities

(Other than Refineries)

This fact sheet provides information on potential chemical exposures from industrial operations and facilities other than refineries.  For information on exposures from refineries please click here.

Why am I being warned about potential exposure to petroleum products from industrial operations and facilities?

  • Petroleum products contain chemicals that are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.

What are petroleum products?

Petroleum products are made from crude oil, coal and natural gas.  They include gasoline, diesel fuel, and lubricants (for automobiles, airplanes, trains, snowmobiles, cooking stoves, generators, and furnaces) and are used to make chemicals, plastics, and synthetic materials.

What types of industrial operations and facilities (other than refineries) are petroleum products found in and around?

Petroleum products are found in and around oil and natural gas fields, chemical plants, and natural gas power plants.  They are also found in and around transport and storage operations, such as pipelines, marine terminals, tank trucks, and other facilities and equipment.

How are petroleum products released to the environment from these industrial operations and facilities?

These industrial operations and facilities can emit petroleum products during regular operations, both from facility equipment and trucks and other motor vehicles operated at the facility.  Releases can also occur as the result of accidental spills, explosions, fires and leaks.

What health effects of these petroleum products am I being warned about?

Various chemicals in petroleum products present in and around industrial operations and facilities other than refinieries can cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Examples of chemicals in petroleum products and the health effects they cause are included below. Any individual industrial operation or facility may not necessarily be causing exposures to all of these chemicals:

  • Benzene can cause leukemia. Exposure during pregnancy may affect the development of the child.  Benzene exposure may also harm the male reproductive system.
  • Benzo(a)pyrene can cause lung cancer.
  • Ethylbenzene may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Exhaust from diesel engines can cause lung cancer.
  • Exposure to gasoline vapors may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Formaldehyde (gas) can cause leukemia and cancers of the nose, throat, and sinuses.
  • Naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Nickel can cause cancers of the lung, nasal cavity, and paranasal sinuses.

How does exposure to petroleum products from industrial operations and facilities other than refineries occur?

  • During pregnancy, chemicals from petroleum products can pass from mother to baby.

How can I reduce my exposure to petroleum products from industrial operations and facilities other than refineries?

  • Contact your county or city health department, local air quality management district, or air pollution control district if you have any questions or concerns regarding industrial operations and facilities in your community.  If you see a Proposition 65 warning provided by an industrial operation and facility, you may wish to contact the facility to find out more about the basis for the warning and the chemicals that prompted it.

For more information:

General Petroleum Products Fact Sheets and Resources

Proposition 65

  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
    Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)
Posted October 2017

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