Comparative dermal carcinogenesis of shale and petroleum-derived distillates

Toxicol Ind Health. 1988 Mar;4(1):11-22. doi: 10.1177/074823378800400102.


Ten test materials derived from petroleum or hydrotreated shale oils were applied 3 times/week for up to 105 weeks to the shaved skin of 25 male and 25 female C3H/HeN mice per group. Mineral oil and benzo(a) pyrene (0.15%) were control materials. Clinical observations were recorded during the study. At death, histopathologic examination was conducted on skin, internal organs and any gross lesions. Exposures to some materials were ended midway in the study due to severe irritation. Chronic toxicity of all materials was limited to inflammatory and degenerative skin changes. Significant increases over control incidence of skin tumors (squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma) occurred with both petroleum and shale-derived naphtha (21%, 50%), Jet A (26%, 28%), JP-4 (26%, 50%), and crude oils (84%, 54%). Severely hydrotreated shale oil and petroleum and shale-derived diesel distillates were not considered tumorigenic. Results indicate that toxicity of comparable petroleum and shale-derived fractions was qualitatively similar and confirm earlier findings that hydrotreating reduces or eliminates carcinogenicity of raw shale oil.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fuel Oils / toxicity*
  • Irritants
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Necrosis
  • Petroleum / toxicity*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Fuel Oils
  • Irritants
  • Petroleum