Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Environmental Management

Description and Effects of Nitro-Compounds in the Environment

According to Wikipedia, the nitro-compounds are organic compounds that contain one or more nitro functional groups (-NO2). Its presence in a compound makes it to be explosive and it is used all over the world as explosives.

The nitro group is also known to be electron- withdrawing in an atom. Nitro groups are rarely found in nature, being almost invariably produced by nitration reactions using nitric acid as the starting agent.

Effect of Nitro compounds in the Environment is believed to retard the lowering of the oxidation‐ reduction potential of the sewage to the region favorable for development of the sulphatereducing anaerobes.

Description of Nitro-compounds

Encyclopedia Britannica describes Nitro compounds as any of a family of chemical compounds in which the nitro group (―O―N=O) forms part of the molecular structure.

The most common examples are organic substances in which a carbon atom is linked by a covalent bond to the nitrogen atom of the nitro group.

Nitro compounds are polar, and those with no other chemically reactive grouping are colourless or pale yellow liquids that are only slightly soluble in water.

Many nitro compounds are commercially produced for use as explosives, solvents, or chemical intermediates (substances valued as raw materials in further chemical processing).

A nitro compound ordinarily is made by the reaction, called nitration, between nitric acid and an organic compound. Nitration of aromatic compounds, such as benzene or toluene, is commonly effected by treating them with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids at temperatures of 100° C or lower.

These temperatures are not high enough for nitrating aliphatic compounds; propane, however, is commercially converted to a mixture of nitromethane, nitro-ethane, 1-nitropropane, and 2- nitropropane by allowing it to react with nitric acid vapors at temperatures of about 400° C. The mixture is then separated into its components by fractional distillation.

The most important reaction of aromatic nitro compounds is their reduction, which can be brought about by a wide variety of agents. Under acidic conditions, reduction almost always produces an amine.

In neutral media, reduction may yield a hydroxylamine. In alkaline solution, compounds containing nitrogen-to-nitrogen bonds (azo, hydrazo, or azoxy compounds) are formed.

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Effects of Nitro Compounds on the Environment

Nitrogen compounds occur in excess in the air, water, soil and food, which unfavourably affects the lives man animals causing a number of diseases.

Nitrates and nitrites cause intoxications, especially of infants and of children, manifesting themselves by methemoglobinemia, anaemia and decreased content of vitamin A in the liver.


Besides, nitrates and nitrites participate in the formation of strong nitrogen carcinogenic compounds, which may lead to stomach cancer. Due to harmfulness of nitrogen compounds in the environment, efforts should be made in lowering the concentration in the environment (Grabek, 1993).

According to SRU (2015), the excessive release of nitrogen compounds into the environment is one of the biggest problems of our time. Nitrogen compounds, such as nitrogen oxides and ammonia, pollute the environment and endanger human health in numerous and complex ways:

Nitrogen-induced eutrophication and acidification contribute to biodiversity loss.

Nitrogen oxides in ambient air have a direct detrimental impact on human health and together with ammonia form hazardous particulate matter and contribute to ground level ozone.

Nitrate in drinking water and food endangers human health; nitrosamines are suspected to be carcinogenic.

Nitrous oxides damage the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

Kovacic and Somanathan (2014) opined that vehicular pollution is an increasing problem in the industrial world. Aromatic nitro compounds comprise a significant portion of the threat.

The class includes nitro derivatives of benzene, biphenyls, naphthalenes, benzanthrone and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, plus nitroheteroaromatic compounds with their numerous toxic.

Measuring of Nitrogen Oxides

According to Queensland (2016), nitrogen oxides are measured with a technique known as ‘chemiluminescence’, which is a chemical reaction that emits energy in the form of light.

This particular reaction is the oxidation of nitric oxide (NO) to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by ozone (O3) as shown below:

NO + O3 > NO2*+ O2

It is an exothermic (heat generating) reaction, which produces an activated molecule of NO2*. When these NO2* molecules return from the activated state to normal state, some energy is emitted in the form of a small amount of light. A photomultiplier tube measures the intensity of the emitted light.

Since 1 NO molecule is required to form 1 NO2 molecule, the intensity of the chemiluminescent reaction is directly proportional to the NO concentration in the sample. The analyzer measures the amount of light emitted and converts this to a concentration.

In summary, the effects of nitro compounds on the environment are many which include its effects on the lives of man and animals to the effects of the interaction of human activities and the nitrogen cycle that affects agriculture.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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