N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is an organic compound that occurs naturally in the environment and as a byproduct of certain industrial processes. It can exist in everything from fruits and vegetables to cured meats, water, beer, and certain cheeses. Animal tests involving rats and mice have established a link between NDMA and liver and lung cancer in animals, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
In humans, NDMA is known to cause liver damage, even if ingested in small amounts, and it may or may not cause cancer. According to Mayo Clinic, NDMA currently classifies as a possible human carcinogen. Some of the side effects of NDMA include dizziness, nausea, fever, vomiting, jaundice, and stomach cramps. The organs that suffer most seriously affected by NDMA poisoning are the stomach, pancreas, liver, kidneys, and bladder.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has placed the safe daily intake level of NDMA at 96 nanograms. If a person ingests this amount or less daily–even over the entire course of an individual’s life–the risks of developing cancer do not increase. Depending on their diet, lifestyle, occupation, and use of certain medications, some people may inadvertently consume more than this safe limit, in which case they may show some of the signs and symptoms of various forms of cancer.
Sources and Exposure
NDMA is not produced in the United States except for research purposes; however, it can exist as a byproduct of certain processes, both natural as well as man-made. Examples of how NDMA may enter the public ecosystem include wastewater treatment, chemical runoff from the manufacture of rubber, dye, and pesticides, and from certain industries involved in producing and processing various consumable goods, such as fish and dairy products.
NDMA was formerly used in the production of rocket fuel and as an additive in lubricants. It can vaporize and contaminate the air, and because it is completely miscible in water–meaning it completely dissolves in water–it is highly mobile, even in soil, and has the potential to contaminate groundwater sources.
Exposure to NDMA can occur in a variety of settings, ranging from environmental and consumer settings to occupational settings, such as work in any of the industries outlined above. The level of NDMA in the public water supply and in the foods that contain it is usually below the FDA-approved threshold and, as such, it does not cause any harm.
Other sources of NDMA include:
- Eating smoked meat or fish
- Drinking contaminated water
- Drinking beer or whiskey that contains NDMA from processing
- The use of cosmetics or toiletries containing NDMA
- The use of tobacco products
Unfortunately, there are currently no clear guidelines on what constitutes dangerous concentration levels of NDMA in the environment. This applies to water supplies that lack federally mandated maximum concentration level (MCL) guidelines and chronic oral and chronic inhalation references (RfD and RfC, respectively) for atmospheric NDMA contamination. As a result, it can be difficult to say with certainty that a given locale or area puts an individual at risk for NDMA poisoning.
If you’ve experienced any of the side effects of NDMA mentioned above, speak to your doctor. You can also contact a product liability attorney to investigate the cause of your health issues and to look into whether or not you have grounds for filing a product liability claim against any at-fault parties responsible for your injuries.
NDMA in Medications
The last few months have seen a flurry of FDA recalls of several medications. These include certain blood pressure drugs known as ARBs and acid reflux drugs containing ranitidine. The FDA recently recalled Zantac, a popular acid reflux medication that contains ranitidine.
Patients who took drugs of these types over the last few months should speak with their doctor to determine whether or not their total drug intake could have led to the ingestion of NDMA at levels higher than are safe. Also, be sure to speak with your doctor if you have noticed new or unexplained symptoms of any type. Your doctor may want to perform tests to rule out the possibility of NDMA poisoning or cancer from NDMA.
Legal Advice for NDMA Poisoning
If you took Zantac or ranitidine in any other form for treating stomach ulcers or acid reflux, used blood pressure medications in the past, or have experienced any of the side effects or symptoms of NDMA poisoning outlined above, give us a call. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm helps victims of product liability injuries determine fault for product liability issues. We also help our clients estimate the value of potential claims and seek awards that they may be entitled to. Call us today at (800) 794-0444 for a free consultation.