Is Sodium Nitrite harmful to health?

  • Mar 06, 2023
  • By Vidyaprakash Lakshminarayan
  • 0 Comment

Sodium nitrite hazards, preparation, uses and structure are discussed in this article. It is an inorganic substance with the chemical formula NaNO2 and is a white to slightly yellowish crystalline powder that is very soluble in water and hygroscopic. A material that absorbs moisture from the air is said to be hygroscopic. It is the most significant nitrite salt from an industrial standpoint. It's a precursor or forerunner to a wide range of organic compounds, including medications, colours, and insecticides. Still, it’s best recognised as a food additive found in processed meats and, in some countries, fish items. Sodium nitrite (NaNO2), which is employed as a curing agent and a red colour preservative in the production of cured meat, is a potent lipid oxidation inhibitor as well as an antibacterial agent. Sodium nitrite is identical to sodium nitrate in terms of terminology and use. Both are preservatives that are commonly included in processed meats like salami, hot dogs, and bacon.

Several chemical processes involving the reduction of sodium nitrate have been used to make sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite hazards include the following: If breathed, it can be lethal, and if consumed, it can be harmful. A fire might start if the substance comes into contact with something else. It causes irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory system, among other things. The reduction of nitrate salts or the oxidation of lower nitrogen oxides are the two techniques used in the industrial manufacturing of sodium nitrite. One approach employs molten sodium nitrate as the salt and oxidised lead, whereas a more recent process reduces the nitrate using waste iron filings. The common response of nitrogen oxides in alkaline aqueous solution with a catalyst is a more regularly employed approach. Because the circumstances must be carefully managed to avoid excessive oxidation of the nitrogen atom, the precise circumstances rely on which nitrogen oxides are utilised and what the oxidant is. Heat, light, ionising radiation, hydrogen, metals, and electrolytic diminution have all been used to create sodium nitrite from nitrate salts.


Sodium nitrite is primarily used in the commercial synthesis of organonitrogen compounds. It's a reagent for converting amines into diazo compounds, which are important precursors to a variety of colours, including diazo colours. Nitrites are used to make nitroso compounds and are utilised in the rubber business. Sodium nitrite hazards comprise the potential to produce methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a condition in which the blood contains a higher-than-normal quantity of methaemoglobin. Methaemoglobin is a kind of haemoglobin that is incapable of transporting oxygen. Tissues with methemoglobinemia are deprived of oxygen. Sodium nitrite is used for phosphatising and detinning in a range of metallurgical applications. To phosphatise, anything means treating it with phosphate or phosphates, such as fertiliser, and transforming it into a phosphate. The process of extracting tin from tin-plated goods, such as tinware or tin waste, is known as detinning. Metallurgical refers to the art or science of shaping or heating metals to achieve specific forms or qualities. Making and compounding alloys as well as Separating metals from their ores are methods or science.

In the 1960s, sodium nitrite was invented. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed banning it in 1977, but in 1984, the USDA issued a definitive rule authorising its usage. In the 1990s, studies found that sodium nitrite has certain negative consequences, such as the propensity to trigger juvenile leukaemia and brain malignancies. The National Toxicity Program (NTP) began a review of sodium nitrite in the late 1990s and proposed listing it as a developmental and reproductive toxicant. However, in a report released in 2000, NTP proposed that sodium nitrite is not a toxic substance and that it be removed from the list of developmental and reproductive toxicants. Sodium nitrite hazards entail a display of negative reproductive and foetal consequences in animals. High quantities of sodium nitrite can induce breathing difficulties, collapse, and even death. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach discomfort can be caused by sodium nitrite. For Sodium Nitrite, no work-related contact restrictions have been set. Sodium nitrite has aroused some worries about its safety in foods over the years, but it is still used.