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Ammonia UPSC NOTE

 Why in News

  • Chennai was in shock as hundreds of residents woke up with burning eyes and faces and difficulty breathing after ammonia gas leaked from an underwater supply pipeline to a fertilizer plant on Tuesday night.

  • M.E. Selvam of Periyakuppam said that around 10.30 p.m., people returning home from nearby industrial units could not take the beach road where the pipeline is located.

Ammonia

  • Ammonia is a fascinating and versatile chemical compound with a wide range of properties and uses.

  • Chemical Formula: NH₃

  • Structure: Ammonia consists of one nitrogen atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms in a pyramid-shaped arrangement. This structure gives it unique properties like strong hydrogen bonding and polarity

  • Fertilizer: Around 70% of industrially produced ammonia is used to make fertilizers like urea and diammonium phosphate.

  • Refrigerant: Ammonia is used as a refrigerant in industrial and commercial applications due to its efficient heat transfer properties.

  • Household cleaning: Diluted ammonia solution is a common ingredient in household cleaning products due to its degreasing and disinfecting.

  • Ammonia emissions from agricultural activities can contribute to air pollution and acid rain.

  • Leaks from industrial facilities can also pose environmental risks.

Issues due to Ammonia leakage

  • Ammonia leaks can lead to a range of issues, depending on the severity and duration of the exposure

Immediate health effects:

  • Respiratory irritation: The most common effect is irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and burning sensations.

  • Skin and eye irritation: Contact with ammonia gas or liquid can cause burns and blistering on the skin and eyes.

  • Central nervous system effects: High concentrations of ammonia can cause dizziness, headache, confusion, and even loss of consciousness.

  • Pulmonary edema: In severe cases, ammonia can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, leading to respiratory failure.

Environmental impact:

  • Air pollution: Ammonia contributes to air pollution by forming ammonium salts, which can react with other pollutants to create hazardous compounds.

  • Acid rain: Ammonia emissions can contribute to acid rain, which harms plant and animal life.

  • Water pollution: Leaks near water sources can contaminate the water and harm aquatic life.

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