Fuels & Fuel Additives

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Communication 16
Health Effects Institute
February 2011

This report reviews new vehicle fuels and technologies that are likely to be commercially available within the next 10 years in the United States and other industrialized countries at a level that could result in significant population exposure. It highlights expected changes in emissions and other effects from the use of each technology and fuel, along with any life-cycle and regulatory issues.

Research Report 119
Robert A Yokel
Janelle S Crossgrove
January 2004

Drs. Yokel and Crossgrove at the University of Kentucky Medical Center studied the mechanisms by which manganese enters and leaves the brain across the blood–brain barrier and, in particular, whether transporter molecules are involved. The investigators used in vivo brain perfusion in rats as well as in vitro tests in several cell lines to assess specific characteristics of manganese transport, such as pH and energy dependence. Manganese transport rates were compared with those of sucrose and dextran, which do not easily cross the blood–brain barrier.

Communication 9
Health Effects Institute
August 2001

The fuel efficiency and durability of diesel technology are particularly desirable in the transportation and construction industries. Concerns about the health effects of diesel particulate emissions have led to progressively stricter emission standards, which can be met only through new technologic advances and fuel modifications. The cerium-based fuel additive Eolys, used in conjunction with a particulate filter, is one of the approaches being considered. However, this additive will result in emissions of cerium compounds and an increase in cerium in the ambient air and soil.

Research Report 102
Jun-Yan Hong
et al.
Wolfgang Dekant
et al.
Janet Benson
et al.
May 2001

The three research projects contained in this report were initiated to increase our knowledge of the metabolism of ether oxygenates in humans and other species. Adding oxygenates, such as MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), to gasoline promotes more efficient combustion and reduces emission of carbon monoxide, ozone-forming hydrocarbons, and some air toxics, by increasing the oxygen content of the fuel. On the other hand, some oxygenates may increase emission of toxic compounds such as formaldehyde or acetaldehyde, and increased use of MTBE in fuel in the early 1990s led to complaints of unpleasant odor, headaches, and burning of eyes and throat. The studies were conducted by Dr Jun-Yan Hong (the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Dr Wolfgang Dekant (University of Würzburg), and Dr Janet Benson (Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute).

Research Report 89
Thomas Burbacher
October 1999

In an effort to improve air quality and decrease dependence on petroleum, alternative fuels such as methanol have been considered to substitute for gasoline or diesel fuel. Methanol is also a candidate to provide the hydrogen for fuel cells. Before people are exposed to increased concentrations of methanol, the potential health effects of such exposures require study. Dr. Burbacher and colleagues of the University of Washington studied the effects of long-term exposure to methanol vapors on metabolism and reproduction in adult female monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) and developmental effects in their offspring, who were exposed prenatally to methanol. 

Research Report 77
Michele A Medinsky
David C Dorman
James A Bond
Owen R Moss
Derek B Janszen
Jeffrey I Everitt
June 1997

Dr. Medinsky and colleagues of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology sought to determine how formate, a metabolite produced when methanol is broken down by the body, is formed and removed in monkeys after they have been exposed to methanol vapors. The investigators exposed female cynomolgus monkeys to environmentally relevant concentrations (10, 45, or 200 parts per million) of methanol vapors and to one high dose (900 ppm) for two hours.

Research Report 74
Gary M Pollack
Kim LR Brouwer
June 1996

Drs. Pollack and Brouwer at the University of North Carolina determined the relationship between methanol exposure and its uptake into and elimination from the blood of nonpregnant and pregnant rodents. The investigators exposed rats and mice at several different stages of gestation to methanol intravenously or orally (doses ranged from 100 mg/kg of body weight to 2,500 mg/kg) or by inhalation (1,000 to 20,000 ppm for 8 hours). They measured blood, urine, and amniotic fluid concentrations of methanol and used the data to develop a model of methanol distribution in rodents.

Research Report 73
Bernard Weiss
Sander Stern
Sidney C Soderholm
Christopher Cox
Archana Sharma
Geoffrey B Inglis
Ray Preston
Marlene Balys
Kenneth R Reuhl
Robert Gelein
April 1996

Dr. Weiss and his colleagues at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry examined the effects of prenatal and early postnatal inhalation of methanol on selected measures of neurobehavior in rats. The investigators conducted a controlled series of experiments in which they exposed pregnant rats and their newborn offspring to 4,500 parts per million (ppm) methanol by inhalation, and then submitted them to tests of behavioral function.

Special Report
Health Effects Institute
April 1996

A Special Report of the Institute's Oxygenates Evaluation Committee. Oxygenated fuel (usually referred to as oxyfuel) was formulated to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and contains at least 2.7% oxygen by adding methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) or ethanol. Reformulated gasoline was formulated to help reduce ground-level ozone concentrations and contains at least 2% oxygen, has a reduced content of benzene and other aromatic compounds, and produces limited emissions of total air toxics. The introduction of fuels containing oxygenates elicited concerns from workers and the general public in some areas, including reports of unpleasant odors, headaches, or other symptoms attributed to the fuels, and questions about their effects on the cost of gasoline, the performance of engines, and fuel economy. This Special Report summarizes an intensive review of (1) the existing science of the health effects of oxygenates, (2) the risk evaluations done by the EPA in 1993 and 1994, and (3) in a qualitative way, the health effects of exposure to the new additives as they relate to the health effects of other pollutants whose levels in emissions change when fuels containing oxygenates are used.

Research Report 42
Mary R Cook
Fred J Bergman
Harvey D Cohen
Mary M Gerkovich
Charles Graham
Roger K Harris
Linda G Siemann
August 1991

In this pilot study, Dr. Mary Cook and colleagues at the Midwest Research Institute explored how exposure to methanol vapor might affect the human nervous system. Methanol could be used as an alternative fuel, but it may lead to increased levels of methanol and formaldehyde in the atmosphere. The investigators exposed 12 young male volunteers to either filtered air or methanol vapor and assessed their response using 20 commonly used tests of sensory, behavioral, and reasoning performance before, during, and after each exposure.