What is N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)?

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What is N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)? Blog Image


The Gujarat High Court recently issued a notice to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), in a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking immediate removal of drugs and medicines containing “cancerous impurities” such as NDMA from the Indian market.

About N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA):

  • It is a volatile organic chemical that occurs widely in the environment due to its ready formation from commonly found precursors.
  • It is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) on the basis of animal studies.
  • It is a yellow, odourless liquid chemical once used to make rocket fuel.
  • It is also a byproduct of several manufacturing processes and water chlorination.
  • NDMA breaks down when sunlight hits it.
  • Exposure:
    • Normally, people are exposed to small amounts of NDMA in the environment and through food and water.
    • Chemicals found in food and water, such as nitrosamines or alkylamines, can turn into NDMA in the stomach.
    • NDMA is also created when food or drink is processed. Foods such as cured meats (particularly bacon), beer, fish, cheese and even vegetables may contain NDMA.
    • Some people may have had exposure to NDMA through the use of contaminated medications.


Q1) What are Carcinogens?

A carcinogen is a substance, organism or agent capable of causing cancer. Carcinogens may occur naturally in the environment (such as ultraviolet rays in sunlight and certain viruses) or may be generated by humans (such as automobile exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke). Most carcinogens work by interacting with a cell’s DNA to produce mutations.

Source: Plea in HC for removal of drugs like NDMA, DCGI & FDCA get notice