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What is Nitrogen Dioxide Gas?

Nitrogen Dioxide Gas Icon

 

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), made of nitrogen and oxygen, is a red/brown gas with an odour that has been described as irritating. It is a very poisonous gas and is toxic when inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Nitrogen dioxide is a part of a group of gases called the oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Nitrogen dioxide is typically used in applications such as the manufacturing of chemical explosives and is an oxidiser in rocket fuel. Nitrogen Dioxide has a melting point of 11.2 and a boiling point of 21.1 Celcius.

 

Nitrogen dioxide is formed through the burning of fossil fuels. This significantly increases pollution in the air, contributing greatly to global warming and the ozone layer alongside six other pollutants ( name). Like nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide also forms a part of acid rain. There is a lot of global focus on reducing the level of pollutants in the earth's environment to slow global warming.

The British Government state that nitrogen dioxide has an adverse effect on human health and can reduce life expectancies. It has proven harmful effects on the lungs and can increase inflammation in the airways, create asthma attacks and reduce lung function. NO2 has been shown to cause pulmonary oedema in humans – an accumulation of excessive fluid in the lungs. Studies have also warned that nitrogen dioxide is likely to cause asthma in children.

Fun Fact –Levels of nitrogen dioxide can be correlated to some of the world's busiest areas in terms of traffic on the roads. For example, Los Angeles and Chicago, both heavily travelled districts and countries such as China, have some of the highest detected levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air.

 

Applications used in

  • Laboratories
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing of chemical explosives 

*The Workplace Exposure Limit for nitrogen dioxide does not apply to underground mining and tunnelling applications until 21/08/2023.