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Key Points

a colourless gas with a strong odour similar to urine

it readily dissolves in water to form a corrosive solution

an important industrial chemical, used to make fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes, explosives and pharmaceuticals

it is produced naturally in the environment and the human body

agriculture also contributes to ammonia levels in the environment

exposure to ammonia may occur at work, from household products that contain it, or from low levels in foods

the health effects of ammonia are usually immediate and long term effects would not be expected after exposure to small amounts

inhaling high levels of ammonia may cause burns and swelling in the airways, lung damage and can be fatal

strong ammonia solutions or gases may cause burns to the skin and serious eye damage