Nitrogen compounds


A significant number of compounds in this group may cause cancer. Several are suspected of causing genetic defects and/or suspected of damaging fertility, while others may damage the unborn child.

Most of them are also regarded as very toxic or toxic to aquatic life, and/or very toxic or toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects, and some also fulfil the criteria as persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT).


Function and use

Some of the nitrogen compound types have specific functions other than being starting materials or reagents in chemical and pharmaceutical synthesis.

DMF (dimethyl formamide) can be used as a solvent in the chemical industry and in the production of polyurethanes, polyacryls and PVC, for example. The main function of acrylamide is as a monomer to produce a variety of polymeric materials. Aromatic amines are used in some epoxy resins but are also unintentionally formed from cleavable azo dyestuff. Most azo compounds have strong colours. Nitrosamines and thioaminocarbonyl compounds may function as pesticides.


Areas of application

The amines, most aminocarbonyls, aromatic amines and hydrazines are used in chemical synthesis.

More specifically, DMF, widely used as a solvent, may end up in consumer products such as polyurethanes (artificial leather), polyacrylic fibres and PVC. Acrylamide is primarily used in polymer production. Several azo compounds are used as dyes. The major use of hydrazine is for the synthesis of blowing agents like AIBN (azobisisobutyronitrile), but it is also used as an additive in propellants and for synthesising pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

Many nitro compounds are used as explosives but will also appear in materials such as leather, cork, rubbers, dyes for plastics, and photographic chemicals. Nitrosamines and thioaminocarbonyl compounds are used in the manufacture of rubber, some cosmetics and pesticides.



Most of the wide range of compound types in this group are restricted in REACH Annex XVII due to their CMR classification. There are more specific restrictions regarding aromatic amines that may be part of azo colourants, nitro compounds when used as explosives and nitrosamines, as these substances are used in many areas.

Many are also present on the REACH Candidate List.



Alternative approaches

The most efficient way to phase out the use of hazardous nitrogen compounds would be to substitute them for other materials or find other ways to achieve the desired properties.

Alternative approaches to the use of azo dyes can be to use recycled, already dyed fibres. Strategies for minimising the content of nitrosamines in cosmetic ingredients are also published by Cosmetics Europe.


Alternative substances

Alternatives to azo dyes are colours from plant and animal sources or low-impact reactive dyes and fibre-reactive dyes (not containing known toxic substances or metals, and eliminating the need for mordants).

Cyrene (dihydrolevoglucosenone, CAS # 53716-82-8), derived from cellulose, is a possible alternative to DMF.

Research on the use of nitrosamine-free accelerators in the vulcanisation of rubber is ongoing.