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N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a highly toxic, potentially carcinogenic liquid. It is synthesized by the reaction of dimethylamine or one of its salts with sodium or potassium nitrite.
NDMA has several industrial uses; the most common is as a precursor to the rocket fuel 1,1-dimethylhydrazine (1,1-DMH). It is found in the waste products of some industrial syntheses, including that of 1,1-DMH; in cured meat and fish; and in chlorinated nitrogen-rich wastewater.
NDMA’s high solubility in water and other solvents has led to its use in intentional poisonings that date back to 1973. In the most recent occurrence (2018), a graduate student at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON) dissolved NDMA in ethanol and added it to the food of a fellow student.
The victim experienced several unpleasant symptoms (e.g., diarrhea and vomiting); but unlike most NDMA victims, he survived. He says that he will always live in fear of developing cancer from the poisoning.
Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.