Does Used Oil on Skin Really Cause Cancer?

Messages
54
Location
Illinois, USA
I have been doing oil changes for 32 years,Im an auto tech,my hands are scared up and hurt most of the time but no cancer yet.Young guys use latex gloves most of the time.Do what makes you most at ease. LILGUY
 
Messages
5,358
Location
Gone
Garry, I sometimes wear gloves because of the hot oil and to keep my hands from getting slippery, but not because I am overly concerned about cancer precipitated by getting used engine oil on me. I do carefully wash up after a change. The way I remember the warning was given is that used motor oil had been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Whether or not the research and data have progressed beyond that, I don't know.
 
Messages
9,448
Location
USA
I would use nitril or poly pro gloves. A lot of people have latex allergies. THe material I listed also protect better from mild solvents like brake cleaner over spray! I can tell you that while I do not fear cancer I do not have any natural body oil in my hands. They are so scared that they are also not very supple more like leather. Every year I go without working as a Tech they get better and better. The idea of wearing gloves is rather new and a good idea. P.S. If you just do oil changes and such recreational then I would not bother with it.
 
Messages
290
Location
Terra firma
I wear latex gloves. It keeps me from spending a while cleaning my fingers afterwards and it also gives me little better grip when taking off the filter. I'm a weekend car tinkerer and I can't have the dirty hands come Monday morning.
 
Messages
3,203
Location
Southeastern, PA
There's about a zillion things I'm more worried about than used motor oil. That said, I do use nitrile gloves to keep my hands clean (the latex ones tear easy). Solvents on the skin are a different issue. If the work involves solvents, proper gloves are a good idea. Here's something to think about. Aside from the elevated cancer risk solvents present... Your skin is not really a barrier to solvents. Solvents can absorb into your body through your skin. Then your liver has to remove them from your system. That can be hard on the liver. [ August 22, 2003, 11:19 PM: Message edited by: Rick in PA ]
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
Latex is only one more form of rubber. Most rubbers absorb solvents. Rubber gloves that have absorbed solvents continue to hold them against your skin. Wearing any rubber gloves around solvents can actually increase your exposure. Your common motor oil itself, is relatively safe. Heavy metals are not. Look at the UOA's to see what all you are exposing yourself to. Most of the components of gasoline are quick to migrate through the skin, and many are very bad for you. At least lead is much less common in it than it used to be. Bottom line, wallow in the stuff, and you risk your health. Professionals that work with the stuff day in and day out need to be much more careful; then others.
 
Messages
43,651
Location
'Stralia
Yep, it has been proven to cause cancer, as does bitumen, coal tar (used in medicated soaps), etc etc. Personally I don't bother, when I cahnge the oil on some car every couple of months. If I was up to my elbows in it stripping engines down for a living, then I'd have a lot more concern.
 
I've been in the field of auto repair as a profession for over 20 years.I never used to wear gloves,but now I do.I use the nitrile 'surgeon" type of glove.Whether used oil causes cancer or not [I dont know] remains to be seen,but at my age(41) why take a chance.Plus my hands are a heck of a lot easier to clean! [ August 23, 2003, 04:28 AM: Message edited by: Chris 2421 ]
 

Patman

Staff member
Messages
21,989
Location
Oakville, Ontario
I just recently started wearing gloves while changing oil. I just buy the cheap 99 cent work gloves, they work very well. I hate getting my hands dirty, so this helps big time. When I changed my oil yesterday, I didn't get much more than a few drops of oil on my hands.
 
Messages
4,478
Location
Southern California
Used motor oil (a witch's brew of metals, partially oxidized organics, acids, and fuel contaminants) causes cancer in <i>laboratory animals</i>. This finding does not necessarily translate to humans, though only a fool would totally ignore it. What we do not know about the testing on lab rats is the duration of the exposure. Also keep in mind that lab rats have become an essentially in-bred commodity (for the sake of repeatability) that are cancer-prone to just about any substance including sawdust. The findngs are meant to be a heads-up guide - nothing more. More importantly than whether you go to the trouble to use gloves is how <i>soon</i> after exposure to used motor oil you wash your hands with soap/detergent and water. Once I have the last quart bottle draining into the engine, I wash with liquid dishwashing detergent twice.
 
Messages
47,644
Location
Duvall WA - Pacific NW USA
I wear the appropriate gloves when I touch pressure treated lumber. Same with motor oil. Yes I was nuetered somewhen back - got enough kids - but as I get older and see just my/my wife's family members with cancers of various types it really causes me to have some cautions. Used motor oil doesn't "scare" me, but I treat it appropriately.
 
Messages
226
Location
Virginia
IMO the latex gloves are a nuisance and very uncomfortable. After trying all kinds of gloves I settled on the cheap rubber kind they sell at the grocery store. They really grip and are easier to remove and reuse the the latex. But I went without for many years and no ill effects from motor oil yet.
 
Messages
4,478
Location
Southern California
quote:
Originally posted by goatdude: After changing the oil a generous blast of brake cleaner over the hands and I'm good to go. They come out very clean. (J/K)
Has it occurred to you that you could be using one carcinogen to remove another... I don't know that to be the case - just a thought.
 
Messages
254
Location
Calgary AB
Pretty well everything causes cancer you know. I'd say the biggest problem with used oil wouuld be a chronic exposure to it. The occaisonal acute exposure is less damaging. Some people I know have bad industrial dermatitis on the hands where exposure to any oil or solevent causes the skin to become puffy and break - pretty gross - the result of many years expoure to oils and solvent. Some industrial lubes and fluids may contain additives that effect the nervous system as well.
 
Messages
2,513
Location
Richmond, VA
Don't know of anybody that's ever gotten cancer from used motor oil, but I still wash my hands well with gojo after an oil change just in case. I have heard that lab animals get exposed to lots more than we ever will on a daily basis. They probably soak the lab rat in oil for a few days, weeks and see what happens. [Cheers!] [Happy]
 
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