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Dinitrogen tetroxide is a highly reactive and toxic chemical that is composed of two nitrogen atoms and four oxygen atoms with the chemical formula N2O4. This compound exists as a reddish-brown liquid and has a pungent chemical odor and a low boiling point of 21.15 degrees Celsius. It is kept in a liquid state through compression, with a density of 1.448 g/cm3 (gram per cubic centimeter). It can also exist as a colorless gas or as a mixture of the liquid and gas states, depending on the temperature and pressure. It has the capability of oxidizing.
· Aerospace Industry: Dinitrogen tetroxide is used as an oxidizer in rocket propellants. It is commonly used in both liquid and gaseous forms to support combustion in rocket engines.
· Chemical Industry: Dinitrogen tetroxide is used in the production of nitric acid, which is a key component in the manufacture of fertilizers, explosives, and other chemicals.
· Laboratory Applications: This compound is used as a reagent in some laboratory experiments, such as the detection of unsaturated hydrocarbons.
· Cleaning Agents: It can be used as a cleaning agent for surfaces and equipment that are sensitive to water. It is also used in the cleaning of some metals to remove oxides.
· Photography: This compound is used in some photographic processes as a bleaching agent.
Dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) toxicity refers to the harmful effects that can occur when anyone is exposed to high concentrations of this highly reactive and toxic chemical. Dinitrogen tetroxide is a powerful oxidizer that can cause severe respiratory distress, skin and eye irritation, and damage to the digestive tract.
The National Advisory Committee for Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (NAC) and the National Research Council (NRC) in the United States have established an exposure limit for N204. This limit is based on an eight-hour workday and is set at 0.25 parts per million (ppm) in the air. The concentration of N2O4 in the air should not exceed 0.25 ppm over an eight-hour period. Short-term exposure limits have also been set at 0.25 ppm for 10 minutes and 30 minutes, which are designed to protect workers from the acute effects of exposure.
The common causes of dinitrogen tetroxide toxicity include:
· Occupational Exposure: Workers in industries that handle N2O4 or use it as a rocket propellant may be at risk of its toxicity. Exposure occurs during the production, handling, and transportation of the chemical.
· Environmental Exposure: Accidental spills or leaks, can result in the release of high concentrations of the chemical into the environment. N2O4 can be released into the surrounding environment as an air pollutant from industrial activities, transportation, and natural sources. Exposure to N2O4 in the environment can cause chronic health effects in individuals who are exposed over a long period.
· Laboratory Exposure: Researchers who work with this compound in laboratory settings may be at risk of exposure to the chemical through inhalation or skin contact, which can lead to acute or chronic health effects.