IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Ammonia gas leak

27th December, 2020 Disaster and Management

Context: Two persons died and several took ill in a major ammonia gas leakage at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) unit at Prayagraj.


  • A tri-hydroid of nitrogen (NH3), ammonia is a building block for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertiliser.
  • Ammonia is stored for industrial use in liquid form under high pressure or in gaseous form at low temperature.

How ammonia gas affects the human body?

  • Ammonia, even in moderate concentration, can cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose and throat.
  • Ammonia, which is highly soluble in water, is found in soil, air, and water; it is naturally present in the body and secreted by the kidneys to neutralise excess acid.
  • However, it is highly diluted when in the environment and does not affect the human body to a noticeable level.
  • It is toxic and affects the lungs with a possibility of causing chemical pneumonitis — inflammation of the lung caused by aspirating or inhaling irritants.
  • In simple terms, what happens in that instead of oxygen the person starts inhaling ammonia, causing oxygen deficiency.,

What are main uses of ammonia?

  • Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers, and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world.
  • More than 80 per cent of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer, and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde.