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A family of chemically stable forms of inorganic nitrogen that are not present in significant amounts in the environment. Nitrites in the blood originate from bacterial conversion of nitrates present in vegetables, as well as from nitrites ingested as preservatives (e.g., sodium nitrite, used as a preservative for fish and meats, such as hot dogs, bacon, corned beef, ham, liverwurst or salami), which have been associated with allergic reactions and formation of methaemoglobin. Nitrites are potentially toxic, given their conversion to carcinogenic nitrosamines.
The reduction products of nitrates by bacteria in urine. In a standard dipstick test, nitrites combine with sulfanilamide on the dipstick, resulting in diazonium salt formation which, in the presence of a dye on the dipstick, forms a coloured azo dye.