Dangers of kerosene

Updated April 17, 2017

Kerosene is commonly used as a fuel for powering lamps, heaters and small stoves. It is a highly flammable fossil fuel, similar to propane. Kerosene is typically transported and used in a liquid form, however, gas leaks of the liquid can occur. Due to its high degree of flammability, it is important to take extra precaution when using kerosene.


One of the most important dangers to take note of with kerosene is its flammability. If this fuel is not handled correctly, it can easily start a fire. Because of this, sparks and smoking should always be avoided around kerosene. Kerosene also runs the risk of exploding. Around 37.8 degrees Celsius, explosive air vapour mixtures may be formed, which can result in an explosion if a spark or flame is introduced. Always ensure proper ventilation when using kerosene.

Inhalation and Ingestion

Too much inhalation of kerosene vapours can cause confusion, coughing, dizziness, headache, sore throat and unconsciousness. Ensure proper ventilation to avoid these problems. If a person comes down with these symptoms, place her in an area with fresh air and give her rest. Seek medical attention if problems persist. If kerosene is ingested it can also cause serious problems, such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and even death. When working around kerosene, avoid eating, drinking or smoking, as the vapours or liquid may be on your hands. If kerosene has been ingested, do not induce vomiting; provide person with rest. Seek medical attention if problems persist.

Skin and Eye Exposure

Other important dangers associated with kerosene include skin and eye exposure. Redness can result from kerosene getting into the eyes. Skin can become agitated with contact to kerosene, and dry sky can result. Wear protective gloves and safety glasses when working with or around kerosene. If kerosene gets into the eyes, rinse with fresh water for several minutes (removal contacts if possible), then seek medical attention. If kerosene is spilt onto skin or clothes, remove and wash clothes; rinse skin with water and soap. Seek medical attention if problems persist.


Another danger associated with kerosene has to do with pollution. Pouring or releasing kerosene into the environment can poison animals and ecosystems, as well as create a potential fire hazard. If a kerosene tank is leaking, collect the leaking kerosene in a sealable container. Absorb kerosene that has already dripped or poured onto the ground with sand or a similar substance.

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About the Author

Tim McQuade began writing in 1999. He has worked for two newspapers, including "The Ithaca Times," and has had a short story published. McQuade received a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Ithaca College.