Amines, nitrosamines and nitramines

Amines are compounds that normally occur in a large number of foods, particularly fish, to which they impart a characteristic scent. Amines are in general mostly non-mutagenic. However, one area of concern at present is the possibility that some aliphatic amines may react with nitrate or nitrite in vivo to form nitrosamines, many of which are known to be potent carcinogens in animals.

N-nitrosamines, R1R2N-N=O, represent a large and diverse family of synthetic and naturally occurring compounds. Approximately 90% of the 300 nitrosamines tested have shown carcinogenic effects in bioassays and laboratory animals. 

N-nitramines, R1R2N-NO2, are structurally related to N-nitrosamines. Due to this similarity there has been a general interest in the potential mutagenicity and carcinogenicity of the nitramines. A few carcinogenicity studies are available, most of which concern N-nitrodimethylamine. The nitramines seem in general to be less potent than the corresponding nitrosamines.

SJA has been carried out. Nitrosamines and nitramines are handled on vacuum-lines and gas-tight equipment. The compounds are destructed after use. Only senior researchers are allowed to work with nitrosamines.