Diesel Fuel and Exhaust

Diesel fuel and exhaust can pose serious threats to your health and safety. Review the hazards and prevention methods below.


When burned, diesel creates an exhaust composed of soot and unused fumes. This soot can contain up to 40 different toxic compounds.

Diesel Fuel

  • Inhaled short term exposure to diesel vapors can cause irritation of the eyes, skin or respiratory tract, headache or nausea.
  • Long term exposure to vapors has been linked to kidney damage, and an increased risk of heart attack.
  • Short term exposure can result in asthma like symptoms, skin and eye irritation. High levels over a prolonged exposure to can cause lung disease, heart disease, and immune system disorders.
  • Diesel fuel is not as flammable as gasoline or other common fuels (such as ethanol or propane) but it can catch fire and can be very difficult to extinguish.
  • As fuel moves through pipelines and nozzle systems, it has the capability to accumulate a static electrical charge. This could cause explosion or fire, particularly when gasoline fueling stations, which are highly flammable, are nearby.
  • Skin absorption can occur very easily, and may cause skin irritation, redness and even burns. If the diesel is not cleaned off, it will absorb into the skin and cause symptoms identical to inhalation.


  • When fueling diesel powered vehicles or machinery, do so in a well-ventilated area.
  • Maintain diesel vehicles and routinely check emission control devices.
  • If vehicles must be used indoors or in enclosed spaces, extra ventilation should be provided to remove diesel exhaust.
  • Ensure above ground tanks have a collection dam installed to prevent spills.
  • Ensure diesel pipeline systems are properly installed, grounded, and bonded, and fuel and additives are properly mixed.
  • Wear gloves when working with diesel. Viton gloves have been shown to be most effective in protecting against diesel exposure. Do not use vinyl or butyl rubber gloves with diesel, as they offer no protection.