Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Portable Fuel Containers (PFCs)

Portable fuel containers, otherwise known as gas cans, are regulated by New York State for their tendency to pollute the air, land and groundwater if gasoline or kerosene spills from them. Even when they do not spill, the vapors coming from the can contain harmful chemicals like benzene, which are cancer-causing, and compounds that form ground level ozone, an irritant that can trigger asthma and cause breathing problems in older adults and young children.

Emissions from gas cans seem insignificant but, with millions of them in daily use, the cumulative effect is enormous. Industry and government data indicate over one million new gas cans are sold and added each year to the already many millions kept in New York garages, sheds and basements.

An old gas can contributes to smog and other air pollution.
Old gas cans allow harmful
vapors to escape into the air.

Gas and kerosene cans contribute to smog and other air pollution in several ways:

  • Vapors can escape through the walls of plastic cans
  • Escaping fumes while being dispensed, through the secondary vent holes, or through uncapped spouts
  • Overfilling and spillage can contaminate soil and water, harming plants and wildlife.

Gas cans account for tons of daily air pollution in New York. A new gas can's features that can help reduce emissions are:

  • Automatic shut off
  • Automatic sealing when not is use
  • No secondary venting holes.
A new gas can has several features that help reduce harmful emisisons.
New gas cans feature an
automatic seal when not in use.

Here is how you can reduce gas can pollution:

  • Use a gas can designed to minimize spills and vapors
  • Fill small engines on concrete or hard surfaces
  • Avoid overfilling and spilling
  • Store all containers in a well-ventilated shed or detached garage
  • Tightly seal gas cans after filling them and each use
  • Use gasoline in the season it is purchased
  • Store and transport gas cans out of direct sunlight and in a cool area.