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The effect of gasoline fumes on plantsFeatured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was conducted to study the effect of gasoline fumes on plants. The testing was done by placing plants beside a gasoline-filled container for different periods of time and temperatures.


Gasoline fumes cause plants to die - the longer the exposure to the fumes, the quicker the plants will die. Our second hypothesis is that exposure to fumes, at higher environmental temperatures, will result in quicker death.

Scientific Terms

Gasoline, petroleum, combustion, toluene, benzene, carcinogenic, ozone, stratosphere, ultraviolet



Gasoline is obtained from petroleum in oil refineries, and used as fuel in combustion engines. It is made of over 250 types of hydrocarbons. Aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene and benzene are used to increase the octane rating of gasoline. Other additives are also added to improve engine performance and reduce the emission of harmful gasses formed as byproducts of the combustion process.

Some hydrocarbons found in gasoline like benzene are carcinogenic. These hydrocarbons escape into the air around us while we are refilling petrol at a gas station. They also leak from our petrol tanks and the engine exhaust. About 30% to 50% of the hydrocarbons emitted into our atmosphere are released from vehicles.

The formation of ozone occurs when hydrocarbons react with nitrogen oxides or carbon monoxides in the presence of heat and sunlight. The ozone layer protects our planet from ultraviolet rays. However, the ozone found at ground level causes respiratory problems. It also damages plants, reduces farm yields and affects plant health.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 8 days for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Extreme care and caution required to ensure that the gasoline does not ignite and to prevent inhalation. The assistance of adults is required and the experiment must be conducted in a properly equipped laboratory which is well ventilated. Fire safety gear and equipment required.