Major Pollutant: Ammonia
Ammonia is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the United States. In pure form, it is known as anhydrous ammonia. Ammonia has the formula NH3 which is a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen. Ammonia is also produced in the human body and is commonly found in nature. It is essential in the body as a building block for making proteins and other complex molecules. In nature, ammonia occurs in soil from bacterial processes. It is also produced when plants, animals and animal wastes decay.
The properties of ammonia includes the following information. Ammonia is a colorless highly irritating gas with a sharp suffocating odor. It dissolves easily in water to form ammonium hydroxide solution which can cause irritation and burns. Ammonia gas is easily compressed and forms a clear, colorless liquid under pressure. It is usually shipped as a compressed liquid in steel cylinders. Ammonia is not highly flammable, but containers of ammonia may explode when exposed to high heat. Ammonia is lighter than air, its density being 0.589 times that of air and is miscible with water.
Ammonia’s molecular mass is 17.03 g/mol and is a gas at room temperature. Its melting point is at -77.7 degrees celsius while its boiling point is at -33.35 degrees celsius. Its flash point is at 11 degrees celsius while its decomposition point is at 500 degrees celsius. Ammonia as a gas has a density of 0.7710 g/L whereas when in liquid form has the density of 0.6818 g/L. Ammonia is a weak base and has a very high affinity for water. When it comes into contact with anything containing water, it becomes very caustic and this can be very dangerous as it can attack moist parts of the body if it comes into contact with them. Despite the high affinity for water, ammonia has limited reactivity with water. Most people are exposed to ammonia from breathing its gas or vapors. Since ammonia exists naturally and is also present in cleaning products, exposure may occur...
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