The nitrite reaction of Griess1 has been used fairly extensively for testing of the purity of water supplies. The test is based on the demonstration of nitrite produced in contaminated water through the reduction by bacteria of nitrate naturally present in the water. In the field of microbiology, the nitrite reaction is an accepted procedure for the study of nitrite-forming bacteria grown on culture mediums to which nitrate has been added. The reaction consists of the development of a red color in the presence of nitrite by addition of an acidic sulfanilic acid-α-naphthylamine reagent. The reaction is highly sensitive and results in the formation of azo-α-aminonaphthalene-parabenzene-sulfonic acid.2 The formula of the color compound is given below.
The nitrite reaction was discovered in 1879 by Griess, a German chemist, who employed a reagent consisting of sulfanilic acid and α-naphthylamine in dilute sulfuric acid. In his first publication Griess reported
Schaus R. GRIESS' NITRITE TEST IN DIAGNOSIS OF URINARY INFECTION. JAMA. 1956;161(6):528–529. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.62970060009009d