Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

Public Health

Quick Links
Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge

Diesel Fuel

 Army Sergeant works on diesel engine in the 185th Air Refueling Wing vehicle maintenance shop in Sioux City, Iowa
Diesel engine overhall
Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot 185th Air
Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Gaurd

Diesel fuel supports a variety of military operations, including powering tanks, trucks, and generators. It is one of the primary fuels used to operate military vehicles in deployment settings because it is more efficient and less flammable than other types of fuel. Some Veterans may have been at risk of exposure to diesel fuel during their military service while performing certain jobs, such as fueling military vehicles and machinery and transporting or storing diesel fuel. Exposures may have also occurred due to accidental spills. Diesel fuel can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or accidentally swallowed.

Possible health effects related to diesel fuel and exhaust exposures depend on how long and how frequently you were exposed, how much you were exposed to, and other factors, such as your age, sex, genetic traits, and diet. Breathing in vapors for a short period of time may cause nausea, eye irritation, increased blood pressure, headache, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, poor coordination, and difficulty concentrating. Diesel fuel contact on skin, such as washing your hands or other body parts with diesel fuel, can cause skin irritation. Some human and animal studies have discussed possible long-term health effects from exposure to diesel exhaust, including lung and bladder cancer and other effects on the immune, respiratory, urinary, and cardiovascular systems (e.g., asthma, kidney damage, increased blood pressure). More information is needed to better understand the relationship between exposure to diesel exhaust and the development of these health conditions.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has published an assessment of the effects of the most common types of fuel oils, including diesel fuel, on health.

VA will continue to review, analyze, and report on relevant scientific information on exposures to diesel fuel and exhaust and related health effects as it becomes available.

Diesel fuel and the environment

Veterans may be concerned about diesel fuel contamination in certain locations.

USS Boxer: During a naval exercise off the coast of South Korea, the USS Boxer released an unknown amount of diesel fuel into the ocean. The ship accidentally recaptured the diesel fuel into its onboard, potable water system. Read more about the USS Boxer, which carried up to 3,000 sailors and Marines during this exercise.

Diesel Fuel and How VA Can Help

If you are concerned about health problems associated with diesel fuel exposure during your military service, talk to your health care provider or contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator.

If you feel that your health has been impacted by your service, VA encourages you to file a claim for disability compensation. These claims are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Environmental health coordinators directory.


Health Care


TDD (Hearing Impaired)