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Environmental Assessment

Evaluation of the Carcinogenicity of Unleaded Gasoline

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Report Information

In the document the likelihood that unleaded gasoline vapors are carcinogenic to humans is evaluated. From carcinogenicity data in animals, an estimate is made of the magnitude of cancer risk a person would experience, under the assumption that gasoline vapors are carcinogenic. All biological factors believed to be relevant to carcinogenesis are reviewed. A quantitative analysis of cancer incidence in the two long-term animal gasoline inhalation studies is performed, an upper-bound cancer risk potency estimate is calculated, and the uncertainties in the estimate are discussed. The major conclusions are: (1) although employment in the petroleum refineries is possibly associated with cancers of the stomach, respiratory system, and lymphopoietic and hematopoietic tissues, exposure to gasoline cannot be implicated as a causative agent because of confounding exposure to other chemicals and inadequate information on gasoline exposure; (2) the occurrence of liver cancer in female mice and kidney cancer in male rats provides 'sufficient' evidence in animals that inhalation of wholly aerosolized gasoline is carcinogenic; and (3) gasoline vapors from vehicle refueling might be less carcinogenic than indicated by animal experiments using wholly aerosolized gasoline, if the less volatile components, which are apparently responsible for acute kidney toxicity, also contribute to the observed carcinogenic response.

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Citation

U.S. EPA. Evaluation of the Carcinogenicity of Unleaded Gasoline. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/6-87/001 (NTIS PB87186151).

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