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What is N-Nitroso?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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N-Nitroso is a substance that is a teratogen, mutagen, and carcinogen. Carrying a full designation as N-Nitroso-N-Methylurea, the substance is more commonly referred to as simply MNU. N-Nitroso is understood to be an alkylating agent that can be extremely toxic to humans.

Exposure to N-Nitroso can have a wide range of complications for people. In limited amounts, N-Nitroso may trigger reactions that are relatively commonplace for an upset stomach or the common cold. This can include a general feeling of nausea along with headaches.

Increased exposure to N-Nitroso can lead to further complications that may be slightly more alarming. Skin rashes may begin to appear, along with an impact on the eyes. There may appear to be pressure concentrated in the general area of the eyes, and the individual may have a sense of having something in trapped between the surface of the eye and the eyelid. As the exposure continues, the quality of vision may suffer.

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Along with outward symptoms, N-Nitroso may also begin to cause the development of tumors or masses within the body. Some of the more commonly impacted areas are the stomach, pancreas and even the brain. A number of different types of cancer have been linked with prolonged exposure to N-Nitroso. The degree of carcinogenic ability linked with the substance was first uncovered in 1972 through the use of controlled lab testing on animals. Over the next fifteen years, other controlled tests indicated that N-Nitroso did contain properties that could trigger the development of cancer in several parts of the body, if the exposure was sufficient.

Exposure to N-Nitroso is relatively unlikely for the majority of the population. Even among persons who may be exposed to the substance, the exposure is usually minimal and not over a long period of time. This means that a relatively small number of people have ever experienced anything other than mild and temporary ailments as a result of coming into contact with N-Nitroso. Still, if there is any chance of exposure, persons are normally encouraged to wear protective clothing, including masks, to help minimize the degree of exposure.

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