The effects of aerosolized JP-8 jet fuel exposure on the immune system: A review

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1 Scopus citations


Chronic jet fuel exposure could be detrimental to the health and well-being of exposed personnel, adversely affect their work performance, and predispose these individuals to increased incidences of infectious disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Chronic exposure to jet fuel has been shown to cause liver dysfunction, emotional dysfunction, abnormal electroencephalograms, shortened attention spans, and decreased sensorimotor speed in exposed human subjects. Recently, several cancer clusters have been identified in proximity to military bases that use jet fuel, and have led to speculation that human exposures to jet fuel may directly participate in the development of malignancy. Currently, there are no mandatory standards for personnel exposure to jet fuels of any kind, let alone JP-8 jet fuel. Kerosene-based petroleum distillates (like JP-8) have been associated with hepatic, renal, neurological, and pulmonary toxicity in animal models and in human occupational exposures. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates that over 1.3 million workers were exposed to jet fuels in 1992. Thus, jet fuel exposure may have serious consequences for not only military personnel, but also for a significant number of civilian workers. Short-term (7 days) JP-8 jet fuel exposure has been shown to cause lung injury, as evidenced by increased pulmonary resistance, a decrease in bronchoalveolar lavage concentrations of Substance P (SP), increased lung/body wet weight ratios, and increased alveolar permeability. Long-term exposures, although demonstrating evidence of lung recovery, result in injury to secondary organs such as liver, kidneys, and spleen. The purpose of this review is to summarize the effects on the immune system that have been observed when animal and human subjects have been exposed to aerosolized jet fuels. A discussion of potential real-world consequences of such exposure and effects is discussed, as well as methods by which to ameliorate the effects of jet fuel exposure. Due to the observed immune effects, exposure of individuals to JP-8 (as well as any other) jet fuel may result in an increased risk of infectious disease and cancer. However, it may be possible to reverse or prevent many of these effects through the administration of SP. It is absolutely critical to ascertain and understand the potential consequences of immune function alterations as they pertain to the short-term and long-term health and well-being of exposed personnel, as well as their treatment before and after exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJet Fuel Toxicology
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781420080216
ISBN (Print)9781420080209
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Medicine
  • General Environmental Science


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