Kerosene is a type of flammable fuel commonly burned as an energy source for stoves, lanterns, jet fuels and furnaces. It is also used as a main ingredient in solutions of insecticides and various greases. Kerosene is derived primarily from petroleum, but at one time, it was also made from coal tar and shale oils. It can appear colorless or pale yellow and has a unique odor.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that kerosene was used widely in North America during the mid-19th century and into the 20th century until the use of electricity became the predominant source of power. However, kerosene is still heavily relied upon in developing nations that do not yet have the advanced infrastructure available to support common electricity use. Many people in Africa, Asia and Latin America still use kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting, and an estimated 7.6 billion liters of kerosene are used annually worldwide. Environmentalists are pushing for these nations to cut down on their kerosene usage and switch to more eco-friendly energy alternatives, such as solar and wind power. Several health complications are caused by the excessive of use of kerosene, including lung cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, cataracts and low birth weights.