Nitrogen oxides

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The general term used for any of the nitrogen oxide gases (Nitric oxide, Nitrous oxide, Nitrogen dioxide, and others) that occur as atmospheric pollutants. Nitrogen oxides are produced by the incomplete combustion of Petroleum and Coal. They are also produced by passing air through an electric arc. Nitrogen oxides are strong nitrating and oxidizing agents that attack many types of materials, such as metals, stones, Cellulose, proteins, and dyes. Nitrogen oxides react with volatile organic compounds to form Ozone. Over 23,000 tons of nitrogen oxides were emitted as pollutants in the United States in 1994.

  • See Pollutant record for a comparison table of aerosols and collection risks.

Personal Risks

  • Toxic by inhalation.
  • Irritating to skin, eyes and other membranes.

Collection Risks

  • Corrodes copper, brass, iron and zinc
  • Weakens cellulose and proteins
  • Discolors dyes, inks, and pigments
  • May fade some color photographs

Resources and Citations

  • Jean Tétreault, 'Products used in Preventive Conservation' Technical Bulletin #2, CCI, 2017. Link
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 547
  • The Dictionary of Paper, American Paper Institute, New York, Fourth Edition, 1980
  • Marjorie Shelley, The Care and Handling of Art Objects, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1987
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986