Is Diesel Exhaust Fluid Harmful To Humans?

DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) is non-toxic, non-harmful, and non-dangerous. In reality, DEF is the least harmful of all the fluids used in a truck, including diesel, engine oil, braking fluid, antifreeze, and windscreen wash. DEF, on the other hand, is corrosive to several metals, including carbon steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc, and should not be stored in these containers. Your DEF provider can provide you with more information. ISO22241 includes a list of recommended and non-recommended materials, but emphasizes that neither list is exhaustive.

Is DEF toxic to humans?

The Clean Air Act of 1970 paved the way for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been constantly evolving and enacting laws to address the country’s environmental requirements for 46 years. For many years, owners of three-quarter and one-ton light-duty pickup trucks were not required to install additional smog equipment. All of that changed in 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated the use of diesel particulate filters on all three-quarter-ton and larger vehicles, as well as biannual smog testing that included a visual assessment of the truck to ensure the DPF parts were still there. The rules were tightened even more in 2010.

Many people believed that the age of enormous power and torque was finished, and they resolved to never buy another vehicle. However, something fantastic occurred, as well as the polar opposite. Americans have proven to be adaptable and resilient. Every manufacturer worked out a way to reduce NOx emissions while still producing more horsepower and torque than ever before. Strife yields bread, and bread yields innovation.

The application of selective catalytic reduction was the engineering breakthrough. To break down the created NOx into harmless nitrogen and water molecules, the great majority of these systems use diesel exhaust fluid (a mixture of urea and deionized water) injected into the exhaust system. Since the introduction of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), also known as after-treatment technology, in the exhaust, the manufacturer is free to create as much power as they like. The DEF is kept in a separate tank that is insulated and heated, with a blue filler cap to identify it.

Despite the effort around technology breakthroughs, there are still two factions of diesel guys out there: those who have accepted the EPA modifications and those who are still adamantly opposed to any limits. There has been a transition to older used diesel engines or remanufactured diesel engines that have been grandfathered in for individuals who are unable to accept the modifications. The purpose of this essay is to lay forth the cold hard facts concerning DEF and to educate the public on how to make better diesel operator decisions.

What exactly is Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)?

DEF is a mixture of 67.5 percent deionized water and 32.5 percent urea from a chemical standpoint. Urea is a nitrogen chemical that, when heated, converts to ammonia and is employed in a range of industries. Although urea is technically produced from a urine waste, it is synthesized for mass manufacture. The American Petroleum Institute regulates most DEF products. Let’s look at the science of DEF in combination with exhaust. DEF is made up of two parts: (NH2)2CO and (NH2)2CO. When injected into hot exhaust gas, the water evaporates, leaving ammonia and isocyanic acid.

STEP 2: With water, the isocyanic acid breaks down chemically into carbon dioxide and ammonia:

STEP 3: At this step in the chemical reaction, ammonia will decrease nitrogen oxides in the presence of oxygen and a catalyst:

2(NH2)2CO + 4NO + O2 = 4N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2

How Often Do You Need To Fill Up the DEF Tank?

This is a question that is specifically dependent on the diesel truck’s MPG and usage. The usual average light duty truck will require 2-3 gallons of DEF per 800 miles, regardless of the load, according to the OE manufacturer. Most new trucks with an average miles per gallon rating of 20+mpg, on the other hand, will travel 8,000-10,000 miles on a tank full of DPF (10 gallons). Each vehicle is different; for example, a Dodge Ram has a gauge that shows how much DEF is left in the tank, while a GM truck has a digital readout and a Ford truck has a basic low DEF indicator.

Fuel models for medium and heavy duty trucks will vary, but DEF usage will be around 2% of total fuel consumption, according to Cummins Filtration. One gallon of DEF is used for every 50 gallons of diesel fuel used. Here are some forecasts from our friends at Cummins Filtration for Medium and Heavy Duty Consumption:

Where can you buy DEF?

Don’t be tricked by thinking that DEF can be purchased just about everywhere. DEF is typically sold in large bottles holding numerous gallons of the substance at truck stops. If you’re in a pinch, some petrol stations will have DEF, but don’t bank on it. It is critical to note that if you do not refill an empty DEF tank, the engine will shut down automatically. Because DEF isn’t offered everywhere, you don’t want to be trapped anywhere with an empty tank. TravelCenters of America, Walmart, Target, Love’s Travel Shop, SAPP Brothers, Flying J Truck Stops, Petro Stopping Centers, and Pilot Travel Centers, O’Reilly’s, NAPA, and Advanced Auto are all common places to buy DEF. We’ve also put together a list of the most popular DEF manufacturers.

What are the Pros and Cons of a DEF Truck?

DEF has few drawbacks because it is a relatively straightforward technique. However, because the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) are prone to clogging, they can cause a slew of maintenance and repair concerns. These systems are intricately designed, and even a simple blocked filter can result in pressure and temperature differentials that influence the engine’s overall performance.

The only disadvantages of DEF are the higher initial cost, added weight, and the need for more storage space for an extra gallon of the fluid. Better fuel economy, more horsepower, more optimized combustion, fewer regeneration troubles, less engine wear, and it only emits nitrogen and water vapor into the air are some of the benefits.

Is emissions production really an important issue?

Whether it’s a major concern or not is debatable, given that all light-medium diesel engines built after 2008 must meet with EPA regulations. Smog, greenhouse gas emissions, and acid rain have all been linked to NOx emissions. The DEF converts NOx into pure nitrogen and water vapor as part of the Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR). Climate change is a contentious issue, but we can all agree that adding additional gasses to the atmosphere of any kind isn’t something we need.

Will DEF Lower My Fuel Mileage?

It is natural to believe that any EPA-mandated alterations to the diesel engine will be detrimental, but this is not the case. The big diesel makers learned that they could fine-tune the engine in whatever way they wanted, then let the SRC and DEF remove the particles. The engines are designed with performance in mind first, and then the SRC, DPF, and DEF are added as an afterthought to remove what is no longer required. Manufacturers have discovered that engines with SCR technology achieve better fuel mileage than engines with conventional internal pollution reduction systems. Fuel fed to the SCR provides an additional supply of components to burn. It is possible to increase fuel mileage by as much as 5% to 7%.

Has this new DEF Technology Ever Been Used Before?

DEF technology has been employed in agriculture, industry, and large-scale power generation in the country for decades. The premise is the same everywhere: urea combined with heat produces ammonia, which induces a chemical reaction that reduces NOx by 70% to 95%. In fact, nitrogen-released fertilizer accounts for 90% of urea production. It’s worth noting that automotive-grade urea has a far higher purity level than fertilizer-grade urea. If a lower-grade fertilizer, urea, is used in vehicle engines, the SCR may disintegrate, causing the engine to fail. It could even cause ECM sensors to issue an inaccurate DEF Tank Empty signal.

Does DEF Evaporate After A Period of Disuse?

Yes and no are the answers. With the valves wide open, the temperature at which DEF combines with NOx exhaust immediately out of the cylinder head is between 1400-1600 F. The chemical reaction occurs at substantially higher temperatures than those experienced on a hot summer day. For example, converting the DPF to ammonia and evaporating it would take two years at a steady temperature of 125 degrees F. However, because DEF is roughly 2/3 water, any temperature above 86 F risks some evaporation. Unless exposed to consistent hot climes, you won’t have to worry about a gallon or two of the stuff going bad or evaporating from inactivity.

Is DEF a Toxic and Harmful Chemical?

Urea, the active element in DEF, has been chemically produced since 1828, when German chemist Friedrich Wöhler used ammonium chloride to treat silver cyanate. Herman Boerhaave, a Dutch chemist, was the first to detect urea in urine in 1727. Urea is mostly employed in agricultural fertilizers, but it is also found in the chemical industry, explosives, lotions, skin creams, hair removers, plastics, dish washes, and fuel cells. Humans are not extremely poisonous to urea and, as a result, DEF. Urea can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, but it is not dangerous. High quantities of urea in the blood can be dangerous to humans, however absorption of modest doses of urea, when accompanied by proper water intake, is not. In nature, urea can induce algal blooms, which can produce harmful fumes when it decomposes over its melting or heating threshold. When nitrites are mixed with certain oxidants, such as chlorides, they can create fires or even explosions.

What happens to the engine if the DEF Tank is empty?

The EPA now requires all diesel engine manufacturers to include a tiered warning system (internal gauges on the dash) that tells the driver how near the DEF tank is to being empty. The truck will stop working if you ignore the DEF warning. Some diesel engine manufacturers allow the engine to go into low-power mode, allowing the truck to “limp home” or limiting the number of times the engine can be turned over. However, the diesel engine would eventually fail to start. Treat the DEF tank as if it were a fuel tank; you don’t want to be stranded somewhere because you forgot to replace it.

Does DEF Have a Low Freeze Point?

At 12 degrees Fahrenheit, the normal 32.5 percent DEF solution begins to crystallize and freeze. When urea and water are combined in DEF, they both freeze at the same time. This is advantageous to the user because the DEF solution does not get diluted or too concentrated as the fluid thaws. The product’s grade is unaffected by freezing and thawing cycles. When DEF is frozen, it expands by 6.5 percent to 7% by volume. Freezing periods are accommodated by the packing.

What is the best method to keep DEF from freezing?

Keeping a gallon or two of DEF in your vehicle is totally safe, but it is not recommended. At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, DEF begins to degrade. It’s all too easy to forget about the DEF in the rear of your vehicle, and given enough hot days, the fluid can become unstable and degrade, but at a very slow rate. A diluted DEF without the 32.5 percent urea combination can be harmful to DEF and SCR, however this is a rare occurrence. As a result, on exceptionally cold days below 12 degrees Fahrenheit, DEF will freeze in the DEF tank. This is totally normal and will have no negative impact on the engine. The SCR systems are intended to give heat to the DEF tank, allowing the tank and related supply lines to thaw quickly.

Can I add anti-freezing solution to the DEF mixture to keep it from freezing?

DEF has a relatively specific formula consisting of 32.5 percent urea and water, but it also contains additional compounds in trace amounts to help stabilize the product. The precise chemical makeup of the mixture would be disrupted by an addition, lowering the NOx reduction characteristics. The DEF mixture’s ability to function effectively will be jeopardized by further blending, and the SCR system will be harmed.

How is the production of DEF regulated and can I make my own?

It is not advisable for direct consumers to make their own DEF. DEF is strictly regulated, has stringent standards for chemical purity, and comprises chemicals that are critical to the SCR system’s operation. DEF must be utilized with SCR systems and meet all ISO norms and API requirements, according to Caterpillar, Cummins, and Detroit Diesel, among others. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has a wholly voluntary program that confirms the chemical purity of DEF and that manufacturers fulfill ISO requirements. API Certification is achieved by all major DEF brands present on the consumer market.

What is the shelf life of DEF?

The batch of DEF will last around two years if it is stored at ambient temperatures of 75 degrees Fahrenheit with no large periods of exposure to heat above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. If a package of DEF is heated over an extended amount of time, the fluid will last about a year.

Who are the major manufacturers of DEF Fluid?

DEF Fluid is made by a variety of companies. “Oilmen Truck Tanks,” a website, has collected a list of 13 main manufacturers. DEF is available for $2-$3 per gallon at most big truck stops, auto parts stores, and convenience stores.

How can you determine the age of a container of DEF?

A manufacturers date can be found somewhere on every DEF package. It’s most likely near the bottom of the front of the packaging. This date code will reveal the precise date the batch was manufactured, as well as the age of the DEF bottle. A laser code is inscribed on the bottle of one gallon containers. A little date code is frequently placed on the product label of larger 2-5 gallon tanks. A larger label will be put on the side or top of larger DEF fluid drums (55 gallons or more) and totes (275-355 gallons). Reading a manufacturer’s code is difficult, as each one is slightly different. The batch number is usually represented by the first digit of the date code, and the next six digits reflect the date the batch was filled at the factory.

How do you identify a DEF Filling Pump Vs. a Diesel Fuel Pump?

A number of safeguards have been put in place to prevent diesel engine fuel from being injected into the DEF tank and vice versa. “The color “green” is the standard for diesel filling stations and pumps around the world. “The color “blue” has been chosen as the symbol for DEF fluid. DEF is dispensed by a normal 19 mm nozzle, while diesel fuel is dispensed through a 22 mm nozzle. As a last line of defense, the tank cap on almost all trucks should be a “brightly colored blue” to prevent diesel from entering the DEF tank.

What should I do if I accidentally dispense diesel fuel into the DEF?

First and foremost, do not be alarmed. Second, do not start the engine under any circumstances. If you don’t start the engine, putting diesel fuel in the DEF and vice versa (DEF in the fuel tank) will not hurt it. The SCR should detect the presence of a solution other than DEF in the tank and alert the driver through the dashboard ECM readout. It’s also crucial to avoid moving the vehicle. The distribution of fuel into the lines and into the SCR might be caused by moving the vehicle. Draining the tank while the vehicle is still in its original location is the best option. If the engine is started for even a short time, diesel fuel will destroy the SCR catalyst, which is highly expensive to replace and is no longer covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee. If DEF gets into the fuel system and spreads throughout the engine, it will eventually destroy the diesel engine. The DEF is incompatible with the gasoline system lines, which corrode with time.

Can you get sick from inhaling diesel fumes?

Coughing and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system can result with short-term exposure to diesel fumes. Breathing diesel exhaust can irritate the lungs and/or trigger an allergic reaction, resulting in asthma (wheezing and difficulty breathing) or worsening pre-existing asthma. Other signs and symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Long-term exposure can have major health consequences. Diesel engine exhaust has been categorized as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to diesel exhaust emissions raises the risk of lung cancer and perhaps bladder cancer.

Is DEF fluid cancerous?

To determine if a drug or exposure causes cancer, two types of studies are utilized.

  • Animals are exposed to a drug (sometimes in very large quantities) in lab experiments to discover if it creates tumors or other health problems. Researchers may potentially test the chemical on normal cells in a lab dish to determine if it triggers the same alterations identified in cancer cells. Although it’s not always apparent whether the findings from these research will apply to humans, lab tests are an excellent way to see if a drug has the potential to cause cancer.
  • People’s studies: Another type of study examines cancer rates in various categories of people. A study like this may compare the cancer rate in a group exposed to a material to the cancer rate in a group that wasn’t exposed to it, or it could compare it to the cancer rate in the general population. However, because numerous other factors may influence the outcomes, it can be difficult to tell what these research’ findings signify.

In most situations, neither type of study gives adequate proof on its own, therefore when trying to figure out if something causes cancer, researchers look at both lab-based and human studies.

Results of studies in the lab

Diesel exhaust (in the form of soot or chemical extracts) has been discovered to cause DNA alterations in cells in lab dishes. Although not all drugs that cause DNA mutations also cause cancer, these changes are usually required for cancer to occur.

In lab animals such as rats, long-term, high exposure to diesel exhaust has been shown to induce lung cancer in several studies.

Results of studies in people

It’s difficult to research the consequences of diesel exhaust on people’s health. To begin with, accurately defining and measuring the level of exposure is frequently difficult. Other cancer risk factors that people exposed to diesel exhaust may have, such as smoking, can be difficult to account for.

Lung cancer

The most common cancer linked to diesel pollution is lung cancer. Several studies of diesel-exposed employees have found minor but significant increases in lung cancer risk. Men who are exposed to the most chemicals and for the longest periods of time, such as railroad workers, heavy equipment operators, miners, and truck drivers, have greater lung cancer death rates than those who are not. Diesel exhaust may offer a significant health risk based on the number of persons exposed at work.

There hasn’t been much research done on the probable link between lung cancer and diesel pollution outside of the workplace.

Other cancers

Several studies have looked into the possibility of a link between diesel pollution and malignancies of the bladder, larynx (voice box), esophagus, stomach, and pancreas. Cancers of the blood system, such as lymphomas and leukemias, have also been studied (including childhood leukemia). Some research have discovered possible connections, whereas others have not. To see if diesel exhaust exposure is linked to any of these other malignancies, more research is needed.

What expert agencies say about diesel exhaust

Several national and international organizations investigate environmental contaminants to see if they can cause cancer. (A carcinogen is a chemical that causes or aids in the growth of cancer.) These organizations are entrusted by the American Cancer Society to assess the hazards based on evidence from laboratory, animal, and human research studies.

Some of these expert agencies have classed diesel exhaust as carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic, based mostly on the possibility of lung cancer.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is in charge of cancer research (WHO). Its main goal is to figure out what causes cancer. Diesel engine exhaust is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), based on adequate evidence that it is connected to an increased risk of lung cancer. There is also “some evidence of a positive connection” between diesel exhaust and bladder cancer, according to the IARC.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is made up of components from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (FDA). Based on limited evidence from human research (mostly associating it to lung cancer) and supportive evidence from lab studies, the NTP has classed diesel exhaust particles as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) is an electronic database maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides information on human health impacts from exposure to numerous compounds in the environment. Diesel exhaust is classified by the EPA as “likely to be harmful to humans.”

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a division of the CDC that investigates occupational hazards. Diesel exhaust has been classified as a “potential occupational carcinogen” by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

(See Known and Probable Human Carcinogens for further information on these agencies’ classification systems.)

What does diesel exhaust fluid do?

We get a lot of questions about DEF and how to use it effectively on your forecourt, so we asked the expertise of Danny Seals, a forecourt solutions expert, to provide us with some simple answers.

What is DEF?

DEF is a urea-water solution that is injected into the exhaust stream of diesel automobiles to convert NOx gases (harmful emissions) into nitrogen and water. Vehicle manufacturers introduced a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to meet EPA emissions limits in 2010. This is a strategy to achieve the requirements without sacrificing engine performance or fuel economy. DEF isn’t a fuel additive, and it’s kept in its own tank.

Who needs DEF, why?

DEF is required for medium and heavy-duty vehicles equipped with diesel engines manufactured after 2010. To meet emissions rules, the vehicle is configured to inject DEF into the exhaust stream. The engine performance will be diminished and lower speeds will be imposed if the vehicle is allowed to run out of DEF.

What are the different delivery modes of DEF?

DEF is available in a variety of forms. A driver can purchase jugs/containers in a variety of sizes. This necessitates the driver physically transferring the DEF into the car. When installed, DEF can also be dispensed into the vehicle using a fueling dispenser.

Which retailers should offer DEF and what indicators can they use to decide?

Because there is such a vast population of automobiles on the road, DEF is an excellent product for all c-stores to offer. Retailers who sell diesel at their gas stations can utilize the volume sold to estimate the number of diesel customers they have. DEF is required by the majority of today’s heavy-duty trucks. Locations with a separate large truck filling station might think about putting DEF in the dispensers. Because they buy DEF in quantity to keep in their tanks, this results in higher profit margins. Some places that sell a lot of diesel on their forecourt should also consider a dispenser option.

How can Gilbarco help retailers get into DEF?

Since the inception of DEF requirements, Gilbarco has been the industry leader in DEF dispensers. Over the years, we’ve worked with large stores to provide dispenser functionality, and we’ve established the industry standard for this service. Gilbarco assists merchants in entering the DEF dispensing market by providing factory-installed options and retrofitting existing dispensers where DEF is stored in bulk.

Can def fluid explode?

Diesel Exhaust Fluid is a term that not everyone is familiar with (DEF). If you drive a diesel car, though, you’ve probably been pushed to use DEF as a way to reduce the pollution that your engine produces while operating on diesel. This is because it aids in the reduction of nitrogen emissions. Is DEF, on the other hand, a fire hazard, and if so, what should be done about it?

While DEF is added to diesel fuel, it is not a fuel in and of itself. It is a non-flammable chemical that is not harmful and does not pose an explosion risk.

That’s not to say you can just throw DEF around; there are a few things to keep in mind, as we’ll see, but it’s a relatively safe substance.

Your primary concern is the safety of your family. As a firefighter, I strongly advise that everyone installs smoke detectors that do not require battery replacement.

What does Blue DEF?

BlueDEF SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) systems in diesel automobiles employ Diesel Exhaust Fluid, which is a blend of high purity synthetic urea and deionized water. DEF is a chemical that aids in the conversion of NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a fundamental component of the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) process, which is employed by diesel engine manufacturers to comply with EPA 2010 rules. BlueDEF is a harmless solution made out of 67.5 percent purified water and 32.5 percent automotive-grade urea. BlueDEF isn’t a gasoline or a gasoline additive. Instead, when BlueDEF is injected into the exhaust stream and passed via a catalyst, it aids in the conversion of NOx to nitrogen gas and water vapor, both of which are safe and natural components of the air we breathe.

  • BlueDEF’s Purity Guarantee ensures that the DEF you’re buying has been rigorously tested to meet or exceed OEM specifications.
  • It complies with the ISO-22241-1 DEF specification and is a diesel exhaust fluid recognized by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Can diesel vapors ignite?

For the most part, this is true in its liquid state. Diesel, in vapor form, is extremely toxic and can readily catch fire (or explode) when exposed to an accelerant such as fan air or oxygen. When diesel vapors come into contact with air, they can ignite and explode. Over a wide range of vapor-to-air mixtures, the vapors are explosive.

What does exhaust fumes do to your body?

Simply put, carbon monoxide is lethal! Working in close proximity to exhaust fumes exposes you to the toxic carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which is present in huge quantities in vehicle exhaust fumes. This odorless and colorless gas can kill you if you breathe it in too much. CO exposure, even at low levels, can produce headaches, dizziness, nausea, and exhaustion.

Diesel exhaust, the ubiquitous black smoke seen billowing from huge trucks, has recently attracted a lot of attention. In 1996, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) started the Dump Dirty Diesels campaign, which included the slogan “Standing behind this bus could be more harmful than standing in front of it.” The California Air Resources Board (CARB) eventually declared soot, or particulate matter, from diesel exhaust to be a cancer-causing contaminant after eight years of investigation. CARB also labeled forty compounds found in diesel exhaust as hazardous air pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States is currently conducting its own investigation on the effects of diesel exhaust on human health. They have already enacted new restrictions that limit the amount of pollution that heavy-duty trucks and buses are allowed to emit. The revised rules, however, will not be implemented until 2004 and would only apply to vehicles manufactured in 2004 and later.

Table 1 lists a number of health effects that diesel exhaust can have. Some carcinogens and toxic chemicals have been identified in the exhaust. Among the numerous additional probable carcinogenic components of diesel exhaust are arsenic, benzene, and nickel. The exhaust also contains 38 other components that are classified as harmful pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency. (as opposed to the 40 recently found by the CARB), include benzopyrene, 1,3-butadiene, and formaldehyde, which are probable carcinogens. The EPA, NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified exhaust as a possible carcinogen (International Agency for Research on Cancer).