ToxFAQsTM for Jet Fuels JP-4 and JP-7
Spanish: Combustibles de aviones a reacción JP-4 y JP-7
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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 1-800-232-4636. 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.
JP-4 and JP-7 are
liquid mixtures produced from petroleum and used by the
U.S. Air Force as aircraft fuels. Breathing large amounts
of the vapors from these fuels may cause nausea and nervous
system effects. JP-4 has been found in at least 4 of the
1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). JP-7 has not been
found at any sites.
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
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, disposal, or release from jets during flight.
- Some chemicals found in JP-4 may dissolve in water,
while others may evaporate into the air.
- 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 slowly in air, water, and soil by sunlight or small
- There is no information about what happens to JP-7 when
it enters the environment, but it probably acts similarly to
- 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, transport, or use jet fuels.
- Exposure to JP-4 is most likely to occur through skin
contact or breathing contaminated air.
- You may be exposed to JP-4 by breathing some of the
chemicals that evaporate from a spill or leak site.
- You may also be exposed through drinking or swimming
in water that has been contaminated with JP-4, or from
touching soil contaminated from a spill or leak.
- 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
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
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
Office of Innovation and Analytics, Toxicology Section
4770 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341-3717
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO
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.