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Old 28-08-2013, 20:39   #1
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Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

After spending a lot to have our boat's bilges professionally cleaned, articles of clothing still have a diesel odor after spending the day on the boat. The odor occurs whether or not the engine is run. The pads placed under the engine after cleaning are clean.

The question is, is this odor any indication of a health hazard?
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Old 28-08-2013, 20:59   #2
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

You should be fine. There was a period in my life when even after washing my clothes they still had a diesel smell...
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Old 28-08-2013, 22:38   #3
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

Do you mean the smell of un-burned diesel? You should look for a leak in your fuel system.

I don't think these fumes are a hazard, unless you button up the boat.

The lifter pump on our yanmar had been leaking for at least 2 years, and all the cushions, and any other clothing left on the boat for even a few days, smelled like diesel.

We fixed the leak, washed the cushion covers, flushed the bilge and put the cushions in the attic to dry out over the off season. Smell gone.

The smell also got on the sol, and under the sol, so I removed the panels and washed/dried.
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Old 28-08-2013, 23:03   #4
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

If you need to get rid of the stink of unburned diesel, these little contraptions may work for you - Ozone Generators

They basically remove odors by oxidizing organic compounds with high concentrations of ozone. This method is effective on mold, smoke, critter odors & a lot of other things too. There are no chemicals to apply & there is no residue after you ventilate the treated area for a few minutes.

There are two basic concerns though. Don't use them anywhere that flammable concentrations of vapor may be present & don't let people or pets into the treated area for any length of time until you've ventilated it. Those things produce high concentrations of ozone by using spark beds, think - a lot of mini lightening bolts in a small area.

Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of ozone is known to cause pulmonary toxicity. Walking into a treated room long enough to open a window & retrieve the unit has never caused me any known difficulty, but remaining in a treated area for 5-minutes, before ventilating it, probably isn't a good idea.

I've been using these fore several years now, mostly to get rid of mold-related issues in the AC vents in cars. They've worked well for me in several other places too. I loan mine out a lot to friends & family.
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Old 29-08-2013, 11:36   #5
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

Thank you for the replies. The suggestion of using an Ozone Generator is a good one. Is there anybody out there that has more of a medical training, that can comment on the health impact?

The situation is that we cannot smell diesel when we are on the boat. However, when we get off the boat, clothing and plastic items have a diesel smell. The smell does wash out. Our concern is that obviously for the clothes to attract a smell, there has to be diesel fumes in the air. Are these fumes a hazard to our health?
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Old 29-08-2013, 11:46   #6
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

"Nothing like the smell of burning diesel in the morning...."
hmmm... cant smell it but it's in your clothes when you get home... are those clothes stored in a particular locker or something.... or maybe a previous leak has saturated the timbers under the floor? tough one...
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Old 29-08-2013, 14:16   #7
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I had that smell on my boat and thought I cleaned and checked everything, even got the ozonator. Then I took all the cushions to a local carpet furniture cleaner. Best money I spent so far. He said he steam cleaned and deoderized twice and let them dry for a week before he called that they were ready. It was like a new boat. While waiting for the cushions I wiped down everything. What a difference it made. Worked for me. So much nicer and after a year still great.
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Old 29-08-2013, 14:31   #8
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

if it is in your clothing, wash em. if the smell is in the air of your boat--you still have a leak. find it. you are breathing petrochemicals and that is yes a health hazard.
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Old 29-08-2013, 14:49   #9
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

Most things like this are about exposure levels. Huffing a rag of diesel an hour a day is a little different than the ambient random diesel that comes from the tank vent. Breathing in fumes is never good for you, but it's really hard to say what's dangerous or not unless you can put some context around exposure.
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Old 29-08-2013, 16:22   #10
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

if you are still smelling fresh diesel in your cabin you still have a diesel fuel line leak. ask me how i know...rodlmao......
any diesel or petrochemical in air is CARCINOGENIC. sorry is a fact. you do not have to huff it to0 be affected negatively. petrochemical fumes also cause an inflammatory chemical cough variant asthma also- now that is unimportant and irrelevant until your baby develops that problem before that baby is 4 years old. then you will be all crazy as cough variant asthma is more deadly than wheezing asthma...and chemical caused lung problems make scars for later in life---so please tell me more about breathing in petrochemicals without ability to avoid them, ... OSHA has some info for you....also read msds sheets on petrochemicals.

go thru your entire fuel line--make sure your fuel vent line is vented to outdoors, and is clear. there is no reason for a boat of any make marque or design to smell like diesel fuel.
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Old 18-10-2013, 18:36   #11
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

I must be dead, have been smelling diesel much of my life. It seems to come with owning a boat. Actually have grown to like the smell.
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Old 20-10-2013, 15:31   #12
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Someone recommended vinegar to clean up the smell....tried it and it worked. I washed with industrial detergent then sprayed it with vinegar. It really helped. I also washed the whole engine compartment area including under the cockpit lockers. Years of leaking exhaust and diesel smell build up.

I now do an annual clean but not as thorough.
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Old 26-10-2013, 11:46   #13
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

Diesel in clothes is an old problem on ships. The easy solution is to put a little pine oil in the washer with the detergent. The pine smell comes out in the dryer, and the diesel smell is gone.

We also used separate washers for the engineers, who often have diesel or grease on their clothes. Best to keep them (the clothes) separate from your nice go-ashore clothes in washing.

The smell of diesel stirs me up. Throw in the odor of a wet net, and I am ready to abandon my house and take off shrimping again. Crazy? Of course !
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Old 28-10-2013, 14:06   #14
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

All good advice on here, personally I'd go hunting for a leak, if it's not liquid I would check you fuel tank breathers to be sure the fumes are not getting back on board. If necessary re-route the breather outlets.
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Old 28-10-2013, 14:16   #15
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Re: Diesel Odor - A health hazard?

Any foam cushions will absorb the odor and hold it for a long long time. Had to change ours to rid the boat of smell and also used gallons of Purple power.
Ozone being overused will attack the insulation on wires and other places you rarely look so be careful with it.
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