More people need to be aware that they have healthier options when choosing gasoline.
Fuel the Cure educates Nebraskans about healthier fuel options for everyone. It brings together fuel retailers, ethanol producers, and the community to raise money for cancer research. In doing so, we’ve learned more about the link to cancer and aromatic exposure from chemicals in gasoline.
Everyone is at risk of inhaling toxic chemicals used for octane in gasoline. These carcinogens make up 25% of a gallon of gas. You are exposed at the pump, from vehicle exhaust, and when these chemicals are released as greenhouse gases (GHG). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies BTEX chemicals as toxic air pollutants known to cause cancer, adverse reproductive effects, and other health issues.
Ethanol is a natural, plant-based octane booster used to displace some of these chemicals which have been linked to cancer (including breast cancer), heart disease, and respiratory issues. Overall, according to Harvard and Tufts universities, ethanol reduces GHG by nearly 50%.
According to the EPA, ethanol’s high octane value has allowed refiners to significantly reduce the aromatic content of the gasoline.
To be exact, increased ethanol in gasoline allowed the United States to reduce the total volume of aromatics in gasoline from about 25% in 2005 to about 20% in 2016. High-octane ethanol blends also improve vehicle performance and efficiency.
Why is octane important? The Urban Air Initiative explains it here.
How to be part of Fuel the Cure
Refuel with higher blends during October
Of course ethanol can be used year-round, but during October, when drivers choose higher blends of ethanol like E15, E30 and E85, participating Nebraska gas stations will donate 3 cents per gallon with proceeds to benefit Omaha’s Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Find a list of participating retailers here.
Choosing the right ethanol blend for your vehicle is important. Fueledbynebraska.com explains each blend and has a biofuel finder for locating retailers near you. In October, look for pink hose talkers (pictured below) to know you’re in the right place!
Join us at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk Oct. 16
Take a step toward a world without cancer by joining the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 16, 2022 at Holmes Lake Park in Lincoln. Celebration begins at 11 a.m.; Walk begins at 1 p.m. Making Strides is a non competitive 5K walk that unites communities to honor and celebrate breast cancer survivors.
Fuel the Cure is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the 2022 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Sign up to be part of the Fuel the Cure walking team here or to make a personal donation, and you will get a free Fuel the Cure t-shirt.
While at the walk, stop by our sponsor booth to learn about healthier fuel options with ethanol. To participate in the booth or contribute swag, email Jessica.
Why support this important cause?
People are exposed to chemicals, like benzene, primarily by breathing air that contains it.
To reduce your exposure:
- Limit gasoline fumes.
- Pump carefully and choose gasoline blended with ethanol.
- Limiting the time you spend near idling car engines can help lower your exposure to exhaust fumes, which contain benzene (as well as other potentially harmful chemicals).
According to Cancer.org, benzene is known to cause cancer. The link between benzene and cancer has largely focused on leukemia and other cancers of blood cells. Read more here.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says benzene causes cells not to work correctly. For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, causing anemia. Also, it can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells. Another major source of benzene exposure is tobacco smoke.
The EPA limits the percentage of benzene allowed in gasoline to an average of 0.62% by volume (with a maximum of 1.3%). In 1978, the EPA’s Clean Air Act waiver allowed the use of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline, known as gasohol or E10, to support this. This change was made largely in part to the efforts of the founding members of the Nebraska Ethanol Board!
EPA’s gasoline standards programs are designed to address ground level ozone or “smog” and to reduce toxic emissions from the fuel burned in cars and trucks. Smog threatens the health of millions of Americans each year, and is particularly dangerous to children and individuals with respiratory problems. As a result of EPA’s regulatory programs and various state regulations, gasoline sold today in the U.S. is far cleaner than gasoline produced in previous decades. In 2022, the EPA set the highest blend mandate yet at 15 billion gallons. To better understand how ethanol reduces smog formation, check out this video where our administrator and chemical engineer, Reid Wagner, explains the science behind it.
Almost all of the gasoline supplied in the U.S. today contains 10% ethanol. Ethanol that meets certain requirements can be considered a renewable fuel under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program.
In June 2011, the EPA approved blends of 15% ethanol in gasoline for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger cars, light-trucks and medium-duty vehicles.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with support from the Nebraska Ethanol Board, is currently working with the EPA to demonstrate the efficiency and benefits of approving even higher ethanol blends for vehicles. Learn more about the E30 demonstration here.
E85 is a blend of gasoline and denatured ethanol containing up to 85 percent ethanol and is the highest ethanol fuel blend available in the market. The EPA allows E85 to be used in flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) which are specifically designed to run on this fuel or any gasoline or ethanol blend ranging from E0 to E85.
Expanding use of E85 as a vehicle fuel would increase use of renewable fuel and reduce dependence on imported oil. According to the EPA, E85 can also provide important reductions in GHG emissions as compared to petroleum-derived gasoline or lower volume ethanol blends.
How your participation is impacting a healthier future
Not only are you making healthier choices for everyone by using ethanol, by participating in Fuel the Cure, you’re also supporting life changing research and services. Jenn, a Lincoln native, survived breast cancer thanks to a chemotherapy treatment funded by research. Read her story.