What are petroleum products?

Petroleum products covered by the Oil Spill Law are commonly used for home heating and for energy to power engines. Examples of petroleum products include kerosene, home heating oil, diesel fuel, and gasoline. Petroleum products are complex mixtures derived from crude oil and have similar chemical and physical properties. They contain hundreds of hydrocarbon chemicals in varying proportions, and a variety of additives.4 Gasoline also contains chemicals such as benzene and the controversial additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which will be banned in New York State in 2004.5 All these petroleum products are liquids at room temperature and tend to evaporate into the air (volatilize). The degree to which they volatilize is dependent on the temperature and the composition of the individual petroleum product. Most petroleum products have a strong, pungent, kerosene-like odor and many are flammable.

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