What is the pathophysiology of smoke inhalation caused by oil fog?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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SGF2 is another type of chemical smoke obscurant used in the military. SGF2 is generated by injecting a light petroleum-based lubricating oil onto a heated engine exhaust manifold, causing the oil to vaporize and eventually recondense in the atmosphere. Any industry that generates an oil mist also may produce similar exposures. Petroleum oil smokes are the least toxic smokes. They seldom produce ill effects even after prolonged or multiple exposures.

Concentrations of oil mists in industrial settings range widely (0.8-50 mg/m3), with most at 3 mg/m3. The particle sizes also vary more than 1-5 µm in median diameter. They typically have a high molecular weight and are saturated hydrocarbons derived from distilled petroleum. Exposures to such smoke are likely to last for many hours in a single day or repeatedly over consecutive days.

Animal studies have demonstrated that chronic exposure to oil fog had no effect on pulmonary function endpoints such as total lung capacity, vital capacity, residual volume, DLCO, compliance, and end-expiratory volume. One exception exists; male rats exposed at 1.5 mg/L had decreased end-expiratory volume. Bronchiolar lavage and histopathology showed changes consistent with a mild inflammatory edema (ie, increased protein content, total cells, PMNs, macrophages).

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