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ToxFAQs™ for Jet Fuels JP-4 and JP-7
This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions about jet fuels JP-4 and JP-7. For more information, you may call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. It is important you understand this information because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.
What are jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7?
Jet fuels JP-4 and JP-7 (jet propellant-4 and jet propellant-7) are flammable, colorless to straw-colored liquid mixtures that come from crude petroleum. They smell like kerosene. Jet fuels are blends of other chemicals made according to U.S. Air Force standards for use as aircraft fuels.
Although JP-4 and JP-7 are liquids at room temperature, they also evaporate easily.
What happens to jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7 when they enter the environment?
- JP-4 and JP-7 enter the environment when they are spilled or leak into water or soil during their manufacture, storage,
- Some chemicals found in JP-4 may dissolve in water, while
- Some chemicals found in JP-4 may stick to particles in water, which will eventually cause them to settle to the
- Some of the chemicals found in JP-4 may be broken down
- There is no information about what happens to JP-7 when it enters the environment, but it probably acts similarly
- There is no information on whether JP-4 and JP-7 build up significantly in plants and animals.
- It is likely that some of the chemical components of JP-4 and JP-7 build up in plants and animals.
How might I be exposed to jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7?
- Exposure to JP-4 occurs primarily in workers who manufacture,
- Exposure to JP-4 is most likely to occur through skin
- You may be exposed to JP-4 by breathing some of the chemicals
- You may also be exposed through drinking or swimming in water that has been contaminated with JP-4, or from touching
- There is no information about how individuals may be exposed to JP-7, but it is reasonable to assume that you could be exposed in the same ways as for JP-4.
How can jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7 affect my health?
Little information is available about the health effects that may be caused by JP-4 and JP-7. Inhaling large amounts of JP-4 vapor may cause painful breathing and a feeling of suffocation, as well as headache, dizziness, nausea, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and irritability.
Animal studies have shown that inhaling extremely large amounts of JP-4 or JP-7 vapor does not cause death. However, animals breathing high levels of JP-4 vapor for short periods exhibited poor coordination and convulsions. A depressed activity level has been seen in animals breathing low levels of JP-4 vapor. Other effects seen in animals breathing JP-4 or JP-7 vapor have been skin and eye irritation, changes in liver cells, and decreased numbers of white blood cells.
We do not know whether JP-4 or JP-7 can cause birth defects or if they affect reproduction in people.
How likely are jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7 to cause cancer?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated there is not enough information to determine how likely JP-4 and JP-7 are to cause cancer in humans.
Studies with mice and rats have suggested that skin contact with JP-4 may cause skin cancer, although this is not certain. There is also no clear evidence that breathing, eating, or drinking JP-4 or JP-7 causes cancer in animals.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to jet fuels JP-4 & JP-7?
There is no medical test that shows if you have been exposed to JP-4 and JP-7. Tests are available to determine if some of the chemicals commonly found in jet fuels are in your blood. However, the presence of these chemicals in blood may not necessarily mean that you have been exposed to JP-4 or JP-7.
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set an exposure limit of 500 parts of petroleum distillates per million parts of air (500 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek.
The Air Force Office of Safety and Health (AFOSH) has set an exposure limit of 400 ppm petroleum distillates for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that average workplace air levels not exceed 350 milligrams of petroleum distillates per cubic meter of air (350 mg/m³) for a 40-hour workweek.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) lists JP-4 and JP-7 as hazardous materials and, therefore, regulates their transportation.
CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service.
Evaporate: To change into a vapor or a gas.
Milligram: One thousandth of a gram.
ppm: Parts per million.
Sediment: Mud and debris that have settled to the bottom of a body of water.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1995. Toxicological Profile for jet fuels JP-4 and JP-7. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Where can I get more information?
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.
Information line and technical assistance:
To order toxicological profiles, contact:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Phone: 800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000
Some PDF files may be electronic conversions from paper copy or other electronic ASCII text files. This conversion may have resulted in character translation or format errors. Users are referred to the original paper copy of the toxicological profile for the official text, figures, and tables. Original paper copies can be obtained via the directions on the toxicological profile home page, which also contains other important information about the profiles.
The information contained here was correct at the time of publication. Please check with the appropriate agency for any changes to the regulations or guidelines cited.
- Page last reviewed: March 3, 2011
- Page last updated: December 2, 2011
- Content source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry