How may I be exposed to airborne petroleum products?

People may be exposed to airborne petroleum products in their day-to-day lives in many ways, such as when pumping gasoline or using a kerosene heater. During such activities, people are exposed for relatively short periods to low levels of petroleum vapors. People may be exposed to higher levels for longer periods of time if their drinking water supply becomes contaminated by a petroleum spill. In that event, one could inhale more significant amounts during, for example, showering. Additional sources of exposure not related to leaks or spills include storing gasoline or gasoline-powered engines (cars, lawnmowers, etc.) in attached garages where vapors can enter the living areas of the building.

People spend much of their time indoors at home where they may be exposed to petroleum vapors following residential oil spills. Because of differences in individual sensitivity, some people may detect odors in air or water while others do not. Likewise, some people may have health problems after exposure while others do not. Sometimes odors from the petroleum can be very strong. A home or business could be affected by vapors if fuel oil is spilled during delivery or if fuel is leaking from the tank, generating vapors which enter the house or business. A spill in or near a home or business may contaminate soil or building materials such as concrete, wood, and other porous materials. Petroleum products can be very difficult to remove completely from these materials and residues may provide a continuing source of vapors. In addition, contaminated carpeting may also provide on-going exposure of potential health concern if not removed or thoroughly cleaned..