The next time you pump gas, take a closer look at the signage on the pumps around you. WFMY News 2 digital content manager Devetta Blount was at the CITGO on Holden and Vandalia Roads, when she saw a sign reading: WARNING: PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 16 SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED TO OPERATE THIS FUEL DISPENSING EQUIPMENT.
Devetta said she had never seen a sign like this and wanted to know the reason behind it.
- Patrick DeHaan - Gasbuddy.com petroleum analyst
- William D. Hakkarinen, MD - Maryland Academy of Family Physicians
To VERIFY, we first reached out to the gas station twice. The first time, the manager was too busy to talk, and the second call went unanswered.
So, we reached out to the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.com -- Patrick DeHaan. He explained he isn't aware of any law that mandates a minimum age to pump gasoline. He suspected this sign might be a specific station's policy to minimize risk or abide by an insurance mandate.
But, this sign could have just as much to do with liability as it does health.
We found an article on the Baltimore Sun with a picture showing a child helping her mother pump gas.
The story's author said in using this picture, she meant to convey a sweet story about a child's desire to act grown up. The author explained after she wrote the initial story, she received a letter from a family physician. Dr. William D. Hakkarinen of the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians wrote in, criticizing the photo. He explained children under the licensed age of 16 should not use pumps, because toxic fumes could cause or trigger asthma. And, he said there's a good chance gas could splash into a child's eyes or mouth.
We verified there is no law preventing children younger than 16 from pumping gas. So, signs like the one Devetta saw are most likely intended to protect young children from getting hurt and protect stations from liability.
A good rule of thumb: if you're not old enough to have a driver's license, you should avoid pumping gas.