The hydrocarbon’s chemical properties, including its volatility, viscosity, and surface tension, affect the disease-causing potential of the hydrocarbon. Volatility refers to the rate at which the hydrocarbon can vaporize or exist as a gas.
Chemicals with high volatility have an increased risk for pulmonary absorption and can lead to the central nervous system (CNS) depression. Viscosity refers to the ability to resist flow. Low viscosity allows for deeper penetration into the lungs. There are many purifiers that treat hydrocarbon gases.
The ability of the molecules to adhere along a liquid surface is surface tension. Low surface tension can allow compounds to spread easily over large areas.
Hydrocarbon has low surface tension and a low viscosity, therefore it penetrates deep into the lungs. This leads to a severe necrotizing pneumonia.
The chemicals may also destroy surfactant, airway epithelium, alveolar septae, and pulmonary capillaries, leading to inflammation, atelectasis, and fever. Symptoms typically present as a cough and/or shortness of breath.