Serious injury by concentrated nitric acids is not infrequent, accounting for a significant number of the cases of disability and death from hazardous chemicals. Toxicologically, the two major forms may be regarded as identical, since they are both extremely corrosive and since both emit dangerous fumes. Red fuming nitric acid contains dissolved oxides of nitrogen ("nitrous fumes"), which are toxic; decomposition of the acid on contact with oxidizable material liberates more oxides of nitrogen. White fuming nitric acid, though containing little dissolved oxides of nitrogen, decomposes on contact with oxidizable material just as red fuming nitric acid and also liberates oxides of nitrogen. The growing utilization of red fuming nitric acid (RFNA) by industry and by the armed services makes timely a brief restatement of its hazards, how they should be avoided, and what to do in case of exposure. Illustrative case histories are given.
The concentrated nitric acids are
Mc Adams AJ, Krop S. INJURY AND DEATH FROM RED FUMING NITRIC ACID. JAMA. 1955;158(12):1022-1024. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960120022007a