Question of the Day – Wednesday January 3, 2018

Question: Name the colorless yet highly corrosive liquid that may emanate red fumes when exposed to moist atmospheric conditions.

Answer: The cited article points out that nitric acid (HNO3) “is a colorless, highly corrosive liquid that gives off red fumes of nitrogen dioxide or yellow fumes of nitrous monoxide in moist air. It is the most commonly used strong acid in industry. It is mainly used in the preparation of fertilizers and explosives, but it is also found in a wide variety of industries involved in manufacturing of dyes, metallurgy, ore flotation, etching steel, photoengraving and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.” (Kao SL et al. Acute lung injury after inhalation if nitric acid. 2008 Eur J Emerg Med 15:348-350)