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Reformulated Gasoline

A Major Step Toward Clean Air

Better For Your Health and the Environment

Beginning no later than January 1, 1995, every time you fill up your tank with gasoline, you will help protect the quality of the air you breathe. By doing so, you become a part of one of our nation's most important strategies to reduce pollution from vehicle emissions.

If you live or work in an area with continuing air pollution problems, you'll find cleaner, or "reformulated," gasoline at your local service stations. Reformulated gasoline is just conventional gasoline blended to burn more cleanly and not evaporate as easily. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working cooperatively with the petroleum and auto industries to make sure this new gasoline fully meets the needs of the American motorists. There is nothing you have to do. Cleaner gasoline is waiting for you at the pump.

So...now that cleaner gas is here, use it in good health!


No matter what the brand, or whether it's called "reformulated gasoline" or "RFG," the new blend you get will protect your health by reducing harmful vehicle emissions of ozone (smog)-forming compounds and air toxics.

Reformulated gasoline produces 15 to 17 percent less pollution than conventional gasoline, and further improvements are expected as new formulas are developed. The EPA estimates that nearly 1.3 million tons of ozone-forming emissions will be prevented in the first phase of the program (1995-1999) and that reductions will be even greater during the second phase which begins in the year 2000.

Just as removing lead from gasoline eliminated the threat of led poisoning by the fumes that came from automobiles tailpipes, cleaner gasoline produces less of the pollutants that create smog and a variety of air toxics.

This means there will be less smog-forming ground-level ozone to damage sensitive lung tissue and make it harder for the lungs to function. When the noxious ozone level is high, joggers, people working or exercising outdoors (or indoors with the windows open), or people with various chronic health conditions may suffer symptoms such as chest pain, coughing, and stinging eyes. Ozone exposure is especially dangerous to children, the elderly, and people with lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Even younger, healthy adults may be at risk over the long term, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors in an area with high ozone levels. Smog problems can especially be a problem in warm-weather months because heat and sunlight, along with auto emissions, contribute to its formation.

Air toxics from tailpipe emissions of gasoline vapors also can be harmful. Some of the toxic compounds in gasoline (benzene, for one) and compounds created when gasoline is burned in the engine are known or believed to cause cancer. In fact, motor vehicles are estimated to account for roughly 50% of all cancers associated with exposure to air toxics. Reformulated gasoline is produced with smaller amounts of benzene than in previous gasolines, so there is less to get into the air around us.

Using reformulated gasoline reduces the total health risk to the public by reducing exposure to ozone and air toxics.


High ozone levels affect plant growth and can cause damage to crops and forests. Reducing the amount of ground-level ozone will help protect those parts of nature that are important to human survival.


Will it affect engine performance?

Reformulated gasoline will have no adverse effects on vehicle performance or the durability of engine and fuel system components, not even for high performance engines. In fact, the nation's major auto manufacturers support -- even recommend -- the use of reformulated gasoline. If you travel to a conventional gasoline area, you can fill up without any harm to your car.

Will gas mileage be affected?

Only minimally, if at all. Reformulated gasoline contains oxygenated additives that have been used in a significant amount of gasoline since the 1970s. Gas mileage is affected mostly by the type of engine and vehicle, driving habits, weather conditions, and vehicle maintenance. Gasolines containing oxygenates reduce gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent, but changing your driving habits and vehicle maintenance pattern could balance it out.

Will reformulated gasoline affect vehicle warranties?

No. Using it will not affect either the manufacturer's general warranty or the emissions warranty. For information on warranty provisions, see your vehicle owner's manual or consult a local auto dealer.


The Clean Air Act requires use of reformulated gasoline in those parts of the country with the worst ozone air pollution problems. Also, some areas with less serious ozone problems have elected to use it. Others may do so in the future. It is estimated that roughly one-third of all the gasoline used in the United States after January 1, 1995, will be cleaner burning, reformulated gasoline.

Beginning January 1, 1995, reformulated gasoline will be used, state-wide, in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia.

It will also be required in portions of California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. This includes the following greater metropolitan areas:

Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Washington, DC
Chicago, IL
Louisville, KY
Baltimore, MD
New York, NY
Pittsburgh, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Dallas - Forth Worth, TX
Houston, TX
Milwaukee, WI

If you live in one of the areas listed above, you will automatically get this cleaner gasoline at any gas station you patronize.


Will this program affect the cost of gasoline at the pump?

Studies show that reformulated gasoline will cost refiners 3 to 5 cents more per gallon to make. However, price increases reflected at the pump will vary depending on local and regional market conditions as the industry responds to the new requirements. For the average family the increased cost should be around $20 a year, a small price to pay for cleaner air.

What about using it in lawn garden equipment?

Several types of oxygenate additives are used in reformulated gasoline. Certain oxygenates may not be compatible with small lawn and garden equipment engines, especially older ones. For additional information, ask a local equipment dealer or check the owner's manual.

Is the reformulated gasoline program different from the wintertime oxygenated fuels program?

Yes. The oxygenated fuels program is a wintertime fuel program for areas with carbon monoxide air pollution problems. Reformulated gasoline, on the other hand, is for year-round use to reduce ozone and air toxics in areas with ozone air pollution problems.

What about oxygenates that will be added to reformulated gasoline?

Research completed to date indicates that these materials, when added at levels that exist in RFG, pose no greater health risk than the gasoline they are replacing. And, as part of the total cleaner gasoline formulation, they help decrease vehicle emissions.


The reformulated gasoline program is one of the most important fuels program to protect us against air pollution since lead was phased-out of gasoline.

Despite improvements in motor vehicle technology over the past 25 years, cars and trucks are still a major source of air pollution in the United States. This is largely because the number of vehicles on the road keeps growing and the number of miles driven has doubled since 1970. This is one reason why more than 90 areas across the country have ozone levels higher than the national public health standards allow.

The Congress provided a comprehensive strategy for reducing motor vehicle pollution in the 1990 Clean Air Act, calling for more stringent vehicle standards and fuel requirements. It also expands vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance programs so vehicles remain clean in actual use, and it encourages transportation planning to limit the growth in vehicle miles driven.

The concept of improving fuel to reduce vehicle emissions is not new. Regulations to limit lead in gasoline took effect starting in the 1970s. These were followed by gasoline volatility (evaporation) controls in the late 1980s. More recently, additives called oxygenates have been added to gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions in the winter and the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel has been reduced to control emissions from diesel vehicles.

Using cleaner gasolines - reformulated gasoline - is the most recent strategy to reduce vehicle emissions through improvements to fuel. The program was developed through intensive negotiations between the EPA, representatives of the oil and automobile industries, state air pollution control officials, gasoline retailers, environmental organizations, and consumer groups. These negotiations ensured that reformulated gasoline is a quality product that meets both the emission reduction requirements of the Clean Air Act, and the needs of consumers, to improve the quality of the air we breathe.



For information about the contents of this page please contact Van Shrieves

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