Nitrogen Dioxide

Last updated: June 23, 2014

What Does Nitrogen Dioxide Mean?

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a reddish-brown gas with an irritating and pungent odor. It goes through transformation when in the air, building toxic nitric acid and organic nitrates. This gas plays a vital role in terms of atmospheric reactions, which produce ozone at ground level, making it the main component of smog.

It also serves as a nitrate precursor, which adds up to elevated respirable levels of particles in the environment.


Corrosionpedia Explains Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrous dioxide is not typically released straight into the air. It is formed when NO2 as well as other forms of nitrogen oxides react with air chemicals, leading to nitrogen dioxide buildup. The major sources of nitrous dioxide are human activities like fossil fuel combustion — particularly petrol, oil and gas.

In major cities, vehicles contribute approximately 80% of ambient NO2. It is also manufactured from nitric acid, used in explosives and welding. Other sources include metal and petrol refining, food and commercial manufacturing.

Nitrous dioxide can cause irritation to lungs as well as infection and lower resistance. The sensitivity is more elevated for individuals with respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma. When it is converted to nitric acid, deposits add up, causing acidification of lakes as well as metal corrosion, rubber degradation and fading of fabrics.

Therefore, industries should do their best to control the emission of nitrogen dioxide, such as by using the newest abatement techniques to counter the corrosive effects of this particular gas.


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