What is Ammonia?
Ammonia is a compound made of nitrogen and hydrogen and its chemical formula is NH3.
It is a colorless highly irritating gas with a characteristic pungent smell, described as similar to sweat or cat urine. It is easily liquefied due to strong hydrogen bonding.
In pure form, it is known as anhydrous ammonia.
It is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, the ammonium salts are found distributed through fertile soil and in seawater.
It contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers.
It dissolves easily in water to form ammonium hydroxide solution which can cause irritation and burns, it’s the most common solution in households used for cleaning.
What does ammonia consist of?
Ammonia, also known as NH3, is a colorless gas with a distinct odor composed of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. It is produced naturally in the human body and nature.
Where does ammonia come from?
It occurs naturally throughout the environment in the air (It is one of the most abundant nitrogen-containing compounds in the atmosphere), soil and water and plants and animals, including humans.
It is found in trace quantities in nature, ammonia occurs in soil from bacterial processes.
It is also produced when plants, animals and animal wastes decay.
Ammonia is both a neurotoxin and a metabotoxin. In fact, it is the most common endogenous neurotoxin, small amounts of ammonia are naturally formed in nearly all tissues and organs of the vertebrate organism.
The human body makes ammonia when the body breaks down foods containing protein into amino acids and ammonia, then converting the ammonia into urea.
What does ammonia do to the human body? And, can it kill you?
The effects of ammonia in the human body depend on the contamination route, the dose, and the duration of exposure.
If it’s a result of breathing, swallowing or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce ammonium hydroxide.
This chemical is very corrosive and damages cells in the body on contact can result in cell damage and even death.
Household products containing ammonia should never be used in conjunction with products containing bleach, as the resulting chemical reaction can produce highly toxic fumes.
Liquid ammonia is dangerous because it is hygroscopic and it can freeze flesh.
The worse health effects are caused when there is an exposure to high concentrations of ammonia.
Take a look at the common side effects of exposure do high doses:
It can be in the air, and it can cause immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death.
Although the inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat
It’s important to say that ammonia is a constituent of tobacco smoke, so when you are breathing tobacco smoke you are getting those side effects, even if the ammonia is not in a high dose.
If the exposure method was swallowing ammonia, it can cause burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach.
Skin or eye contact with concentrated ammonia can also cause irritation and burns.
Since ammonia is highly soluble in water and, upon inhalation, is deposited in the upper airways, occupational exposures to ammonia have commonly been associated with sinusitis, upper airway irritation, and eye irritation. Acute exposures to high levels of ammonia have also been associated with diseases of the lower airways and interstitial lung.
How is ammonia used?
-Ammonia is a basic building block for ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which releases nitrogen, an essential nutrient for growing plants, including farm crops and lawns.
The production of food crops naturally depletes soil nutrient supplies.
To maintain healthy crops, farmers rely on fertilizers to keep their soil productive. Fertilizers also can help increase levels of essential nutrients like zinc, selenium, and boron in food crops.
-Ammonium hydroxide – commonly known as household ammonia – is an ingredient in many everyday household cleaning products.
On its own or as an ingredient in many household cleaning products, ammonia can be used to clean a variety of household surfaces – from tubs, sinks and toilets to the bathroom and kitchen countertops and tiles.
Ammonia also is effective at breaking down household grime or stains from animal fats or vegetable oils, such as cooking grease and wine stains.
Because ammonia evaporates quickly, it is commonly used in glass cleaning solutions to help avoid streaking.
– When used as refrigerant gas and in air-conditioning equipment, ammonia can absorb substantial amounts of heat from its surroundings.
– Ammonia can be used to purify water supplies and as a building block in the manufacture of many products including plastics, explosives, fabrics, pesticides, and dyes.
Ammonia also is used in waste and wastewater treatment, cold storage, rubber, pulp and paper, and food and beverage industries as a stabilizer, neutralizer, and source of nitrogen. It also is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.
Is cleaning with ammonia dangerous?
Yes, it can be very dangerous, so when using cleaning products containing ammonia, follow all instructions on the product label, make sure the area is well ventilated (open windows and doors) and wear proper clothing and eye protection.
Do not mix ammonia with chlorine bleach, as this produces toxic gases called chloramines. Exposure to chloramine gases can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes or pneumonia and fluid in the lungs.
If a cleaning product containing ammonia is accidentally ingested, read the product label for safety instructions, or call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, and be sure to have the label from the cleaning product in hand.
Is ammonia better than bleach?
These cleaners are similar but have different uses, they can be used diluted or full strength to effectively clean different surfaces or items.
They are especially useful for hard-to-clean areas and stains.
Be aware of those differences so you can use them efficiently.
– Bleach is commonly used on fabrics to lighten and brighten them; A diluted bleach solution can also be used on dishes and other hard surfaces.
-Ammonia works effectively on hard surfaces–including glass, tile and most jewelry (except foil-back jewelry, glued jewelry, and some antique jewelry)–and is a good cleaner for grease.
-Ammonia cleans surfaces without lightening them, while some types of bleach cause discoloration or lightening.