Sodium nitrite (NaNO2), like other common salts, is regularly used as a meat preservative to inhibit microbial growth during processing and curing. However, when consumed in high doses over a short period of time, sodium nitrite can cause severe methemoglobinemia in mammals, where the ability of blood to transfer oxygen to tissues is markedly reduced and has been shown to be toxic to feral swine (Sus scrofa). Feral swine are of particular concern in agriculture as they are an invasive species that contributes to millions of dollars in losses to agricultural crops each year. A sodium nitrite-based toxicant in development for the control of feral swine has been designated as a food use pesticide by the EPA.
The potential use of sodium nitrite within a bait for destructive feral swine could pose a concern in the unlikely event that a feral swine is hunted and used as food shortly after it consumed the bait. A study for evaluating sodium nitrite residues in edible tissues of domestic pigs as a surrogate for feral swine has been conducted in conjunction with USDA APHIS to help in the assessment of human health impacts. In addition to an overview of the study design, particular focus will be on the extraction and HPLC-UV analysis of sodium nitrite and its oxidative product, sodium nitrate, from small intestines, liver, muscles, and adipose tissues, along with a discussion on the challenges encountered. In addition, the magnitude of nitrite/nitrate residue levels in the different tissue types will be summarized.
Gerald Sanders, Associate Chemist, presented this research at the SETAC North America 43rd Annual Meeting, November 13-17, 2022.
Watch the poster overview: