ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Amines are a large group of organic compounds containing nitrogen and considered as derived from ammonia (NH3) through replacement of one or more hydrogen atoms by an organic radical.9 Aromatic amines contain one or more rings of unsaturated or cyclic hydrocarbons, such as benzene.

The term is largely due to their characteristic odour. Many aromatic amines are known to be carcinogenic, especially to the bladder, ureter and renal pelvis, and are suspected carcinogens to the intestines, lung, liver and prostate, As an example of an aromatic amine aniline (C6H5NH2) is a colourless, oily liquid with a characteristic odour. The most important action of aniline on the body is the formation of methaemoglobin with a resulting anoxaemia and depression of the central nervous system.9 Long involvement in the manufacture of aniline dyes has been associated with the development of bladder tumours. Aniline itself has not been shown to be carcinogenic but the intermediates, benzene and naphthylamines, have been incriminated.

Additionally aromatic amines9:

  • are dangerous when heated to decomposition due to the emission of toxic fumes and a vigorous reaction with oxidising materials such as perchloric acid, fuming nitric acid or ozone.
  • react violently with barium chloride.



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