Why in the news?
- At Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) unit Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, high concentration ammonia leaked, in which 2 persons died and several were injured.
- Let us know more about ammonia.
What is ammonia?
- Ammonia (NH3) is the building block of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) which is used as a nitrogen fertiliser.
- Ammonia is stored for industrial use in liquid form under high pressure or in gaseous form at low temperature. Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers, and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world.
- More than 80 per cent of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer, and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde (used in making building materials and many household products).
Effects of Ammonia on human body
- Ammonia, which is highly soluble in water, is found in soil, air, and water, but when present in the environment, it is diluted and does not affect the human body to a noticeable level.
- It is naturally present in the body and secreted by the kidneys to neutralise excess acid.
- Ammonia, even in moderate concentration, can cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose and throat.
- When inhaled in excess, the gas is toxic and affects the lungs with a possibility of causing chemical pneumonitis — inflammation of the lung caused by aspirating or inhaling irritants.
- Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, respiratory tract to form ammonium hydroxide, which is very caustic and disrupts the cell membrane lipids, ultimately leading to cellular destruction.