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Re: Petroleum Distillates - What's What?
At 01:57 PM 10/14/98 -0700, you wrote:
>This is the third and last request being sent to P2 tech listserve in early
>October regarding P2 for auto repair and vehicle fleet maintenance . Thanks
>for your responses to the first two.
>Can anyone tell me of a definitive source for petroleum distillate
>nomenclature? We are attempting to rank various spray-on products used in
>auto repair and vehicle fleet maintenance according to the hazards posed by
>their ingredients. Various products list different petroleum distillates on
>their MSDS sheets. We need to definitively sort out what's what. Below are
>the fractions we're interested in. We're sure some of these different terms
>refer to basically the same refining cut or distillate (we've listed them
>in what we suspect are roughly similar groups), but need to find a
>reference source (person or manual) that is definitive on this
>The specific questions revolve around the following ingredients:
> paraffin oil
> inhibited parafffin oil
> mineral seal oil
> (mineral oil)
> refined petroleum oil
> light aliphatic naphtha
> petroleum distillates naphtha
> aliphatic naphtha
> light aromatic naphtha
> petroleum distillates
> aliphatic petroleum distillates
> kerosene (Jet A)
> light aromatic naphtha
>The most important question applies to the first group - are all of these
>oils basically similar and are they basically the same as "mineral oil" ,
>in ( ) above [e.g., NIOSH uses the terms "mineral oil" and "paraffinic oil"
>interchangably]. This is important b/c the International Agency for
>Research on Cancer has identified "mineral oil, untreated and mildly
>treated" as a Human Carcinogen - which would certainly change our ranking
>if "mineral seal oil", "paraffin oil", "inhibited paraffin oil" and
>"refined petroleum oil" are all the same!
>U.S. EPA Region IX P2 Program
>75 Hawthorne St.
>San Francisco, CA 94107
>tel (415) 744-2153
>fax (415) 744-1680
These oils are not the same. Toxicity of a petroleum oil is determined by
the crude source, the refining methods used, the boiling range, the
viscosity, the aromatic content, and any additives used.
Aliphatic and paraffinic oils typically have low toxicity. They are
central nervous system depressants, can lead to defatting of the skin, and
if inhaled as a vapor or spray, can compromise the lungs. Inhaled high
boiling aliphatic oils can produce a serious lung disease called lipoid
All the oils identified are mineral oils. Mineral oils are oils produced
from petroleum and are contrasted to coal oils (from destructive
distillation of soft coal) and vegetable oils.
Oils with aromatics (light aromatic naphtha, kerosene), have enhanced
toxicity due to the aromatic content which are compounds based upon the
Inhibited oils have antioxidents added the prevent oxidation in use or
under high temperatures.
Oils boiling between 500-1000 degrees Fahrenheit can and many times are
carcinogenic. Carcinogenic activity has been correlated with weight
percent aromatics in the oil. Lower boiling oils have also been found
carcinogenic, cancer causing activity depending upon crude source and
Mineral seal oil is a high boiling lamp oil that can have a high toxicity
if inhaled or ingested. The name comes from the time lamp oils were made
from animal oils, specifically whale oil and seal oil. The seal oil was
used for railroad use as it gave a long burning lamp oil.
I have been studying petroleum toxicity for 12 years and can provide
comments on many petroleum products. Within my research, I have never
found a common reference book on petroleum products by name that also
Any questions, write or call.
P.O. Box 1000
Putney, Vermont 05346-1000