Vapours of hydrazoic acid, the reaction product of sodium azide with water, were irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract of man. Sodium azide applied to the skin of rabbits was non-irritant after 1 hr but corrosive after 4 hr, and both treatments were fatal. The acute oral toxicity of sodium azide to mice and rats was high. Repeated oral administration caused brain and lung damage in rats, but no such effects have apparently been seen in a corresponding mouse study. Feeding studies in dogs with sodium or potassium azide again revealed neurotoxic effects, with incoordination and brain damage. Subcutaneous administration of sodium azide to pregnant hamsters at maternally toxic doses resulted in embryo/foetal deaths. Two long-term oral studies in rats provided no convincing evidence of carcinogenicity, although in both cases the suitability of the test doses has been questioned. Sodium azide has consistently demonstrated strong mutagenic activity in the Ames bacterial test with Salmonella typhimurium, and has also given positive results in mutagenicity assays in mammalian cells in culture, in yeast cells and in tests with the housefly and the fruit fly. Assays for chromosomal damage and sister chromatid exchange in mammalian cells (treated in culture) have generated mainly negative results. In man, sodium azide has been used therapeutically to control hypertension, but deaths have occurred after the accidental or suicidal ingestion of large amounts.

Date of Publication: 1992

Number of Pages: 7

CAS Number*: 26628-22-8

Format: PDF available for immediate download

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