Chevron’s own “internal” TPH tests prove they are killing you dead!

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ToxFAQs
TOTAL PETROLEUM
HYDROCARBONS (TPH)
This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions (FAQs) about total petroleum hydrocarbons
(TPH). For more information, 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’s 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.
HIGHLIGHTS: TPH is a mixture of many different compounds. Everyone is
exposed to TPH from many sources, including gasoline pumps, spilled oil on
pavement, and chemicals used at home or work. Some TPH compounds can affect
your nervous system, causing headaches and dizziness. TPH has been found in at
least 23 of the 1,467 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
What are total petroleum hydrocarbons?
(Pronounced t½t“l p…-tr½“l¶-…m hº”dr…-kär“b…nz)
Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) is a term used to
describe a large family of several hundred chemical compounds
that originally come from crude oil. Crude oil is used
to make petroleum products, which can contaminate the environment.
Because there are so many different chemicals in
crude oil and in other petroleum products, it is not practical to
measure each one separately. However, it is useful to measure
the total amount of TPH at a site.
TPH is a mixture of chemicals, but they are all made
mainly from hydrogen and carbon, called hydrocarbons. Scientists
divide TPH into groups of petroleum hydrocarbons
that act alike in soil or water. These groups are called petroleum
hydrocarbon fractions. Each fraction contains many
individual chemicals.
Some chemicals that may be found in TPH are hexane,
jet fuels, mineral oils, benzene, toluene, xylenes, naphthalene,
and fluorene, as well as other petroleum products and gasoline
components. However, it is likely that samples of TPH will
contain only some, or a mixture, of these chemicals.
What happens to TPH when it enters the
environment?
q TPH may enter the environment through accidents, from
industrial releases, or as byproducts from commercial or
private uses.
q TPH may be released directly into water through spills or
leaks.
q Some TPH fractions will float on the water and form surface
films.
q Other TPH fractions will sink to the bottom sediments.
q Bacteria and microorganisms in the water may break
down some of the TPH fractions.
q Some TPH fractions will move into the soil where they
may stay for a long time.
How might I be exposed to TPH?
q Everyone is exposed to TPH from many sources.
q Breathing air at gasoline stations, using chemicals at
home or work, or using certain pesticides.
q Drinking water contaminated with TPH.
q Working in occupations that use petroleum products.
q Living in an area near a spill or leak of petroleum
products.
q Touching soil contaminated with TPH.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health Service
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Page 2
Federal Recycling Program Printed on Recycled Paper
ToxFAQs Internet address via WWW is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html
Where can I get more information? For more information, contact theAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry, Division of Toxicology, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-32, Atlanta, GA 30333. Phone: 1-888-422-8737,
FAX: 770-488-4178. ToxFAQs Internet address via WWW is http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html ATSDR can tell you
where to find occupational and environmental health clinics. Their specialists can recognize, evaluate, and treat illnesses
resulting from exposure to hazardous substances. You can also contact your community or state health or environmental
quality department if you have any more questions or concerns.
TOTAL PETROLEUM HYDROCARBONS (TPH)
How can TPH affect my health?
Some of the TPH compounds can affect your central nervous
system. One compound can cause headaches and dizziness
at high levels in the air. Another compound can cause a
nerve disorder called “peripheral neuropathy,” consisting of
numbness in the feet and legs. Other TPH compounds can
cause effects on the blood, immune system, lungs, skin, and
eyes.
Animal studies have shown effects on the lungs, central
nervous system, liver, and kidney from exposure to TPH compounds.
Some TPH compounds have also been shown to affect
reproduction and the developing fetus in animals.
How likely is TPH to cause cancer?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
has determined that one TPH compound (benzene) is carcinogenic
to humans. IARC has determined that other TPH compounds
(benzo[a]pyrene and gasoline) are probably and possibly
carcinogenic to humans. Most of the other TPH compounds
are considered not to be classifiable by IARC.
Is there a medical test to show whether I’ve been
exposed to TPH?
There is no medical test that shows if you have been exposed
to TPH. However, there are methods to determine if you
have been exposed to some TPH compounds. Exposure to
kerosene can be determined by its smell on the breath or clothing.
Benzene can be measured in exhaled air and a breakdown
product of benzene can be measured in urine. Other TPH compounds
can be measured in blood, urine, breath, and some
body tissues.
Has the federal government made
recommendations to protect human health?
There are no regulations or advisories specific to TPH.
The following are recommendations for some of the TPH fractions
and compounds:
The EPA requires that spills or accidental releases into the
environment of 10 pounds or more of benzene be reported to
the EPA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration 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.
Glossary
Carcinogenicity: Ability to cause cancer.
CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service.
Immune system: Body organs and cells that fight disease.
Pesticides: Chemicals used to kill pests.
References
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR). 1999. Toxicological profile for total petroleum
hydrocarbons (TPH). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, Public Health Service.

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