For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.
VOL.: 45 (1989) (p. 219)
Chem. Abstr. Name: Diesel oil
Diesel fuels are complex mixtures of alkanes, cycloalkanes and aromatic hydrocarbons with carbon numbers in the range of C9-C28 and with a boiling-range of 150-390 °C. Kerosene-type diesel fuel (diesel fuel No. 1) is manufactured from straight-run petroleum distillates . Automotive and railroad diesel fuel (diesel fuel No. 2) contains straight-run middle distillate , often blended with straight-run kerosene , straight-run gas oil , light vacuum distillate  and light thermally cracked  or light catalytically cracked distillates . Some blended marine diesel fuels also contain heavy residues from distillation [8, 21] and thermal cracking  operations. In diesel fuel consisting mainly of atmospheric distillates, the content of three- to seven-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is generally less than 5%; in diesel fuel that contains high proportions of heavy atmospheric, vacuum and light cracked distillates, the content of such polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may be as high as 10%. Some marine diesel fuels may contain higher levels. Saleable diesel fuel may also contain a variety of additives, such as organic nitrates, amines, phenols and polymeric substances. Exposure to diesel fuel through the skin and by inhalation may occur during its production, storage, distribution and use as well as during maintenance of diesel engines.
One sample of marine diesel fuel was tested for carcinogenicity in one strain of mice by skin application, producing a few squamous-cell carcinomas and papillomas at the application site in animals of each sex and a few carcinomas at the adjacent inguinal region in males.
Two samples of straight-run kerosene , one sample of light vacuum distillate  and three samples of light catalytically cracked distillate  produced skin tumours in mice. Some residues from thermal cracking  produced benign and malignant skin tumours in mice. (See the monograph on occupational exposures in petroleum refining.)
N.B. - Subsequent to the meeting, the secretariat became aware of a study in which skin tumours were reported in mice after application to the skin of petroleum diesel (boiling range, 198-343 °C) [corresponding to diesel fuel No. 2] (Clark et al., 1988).
In a case-control study of cancer at many sites, there was evidence of an increased risk for squamous-cell carcinoma of the lung in men estimated to have had substantial exposure to diesel fuel. There was also an indication of an increased risk for cancer of the prostate. No attempt was made to separate the effects of combustion products from those of exposure to diesel fuel itself.
Inhalation or ingestion of diesel fuel resulted in acute and persistent lung damage in humans.
No report specifically designed to study genetic and related effects in humans following exposure to diesel fuel was available to the Working Group.
Application of marine diesel fuel to the skin of mice resulted in ulceration.
In a single study, diesel fuel induced chromosomal aberrations in bone-marrow cells of rats; it did not induce mutation in cultured mammalian cells but was weakly mutagenic to bacteria. Another sample did not induce mutation in bacteria or algae; a sample of marine diesel fuel and aliphatic and aromatic fractions of a further sample were also not mutagenic to bacteria.
There is inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity in humans of diesel fuels.
There is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity in experimental animals of marine diesel fuel.
In formulating the overall evaluation, the Working Group also took note of the following supporting evidence reported in the monograph on occupational exposures in petroleum refining. There is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity in experimental animals of straight-run kerosene and sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity in experimental animals of light vacuum distillates, of light catalytically cracked distillates and of cracked residues derived from the refining of crude oil.
Marine diesel fuel is possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).
Distillate (light) diesel fuels are not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).
For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.
Last updated 01/21/98
See Also: Toxicological Abbreviations