Azodicarbonamide (ADA)

Bleaching Agent


The compound formula for Azodicarbonamide is C2H4N4O2. The other names for Azodicarbonamide are azobiscarboxamide, azodicarboxamide, azobiscarbonamide, diazenedicarboxamide, ADA and ADC. Azodicarbonamide is used as a food additive in the form of a flour bleaching agent and improving agent in food industry. It is used in burgers, doughnuts, bagels, bread and baked products. It is also used in chewing gums. As a flour bleaching agent, it makes the flour look whiter. Improving agents act as emulsifiers, enzymes and as oxidizing and reducing agents. The United States allows azodicarbonamide to be added to flour at levels up to 45 ppm.

Other use and industries

It is used in the manufacturing of synthetic leather and foam plastic. It is also used as a blowing agent in the manufacturing of rubbers and pipes.

Health effects

Although azodicarbonamide has been cited as a significant health risk to plant workers where it is manufactured, that is a risk from inhalation. There are no known health risks associated with consuming azodicarbonamide in food. It is considered to be a respiratory sensitizer; a substance which when breathed in can trigger an allergic reaction in the respiratory system. Such allergic reactions are irreversible. It can form semicarbazide, a substance proved to be a carcinogen by various animal studies. In individuals sensitive to azo compounds like food dyes, azodicarbonamide can cause allergic reaction. It can also heighten allergic reaction to other food ingredients. There is evidence that azodicarbonamide may cause asthma and promote allergies.


Azodicarbonamide is industrially synthesized in a reaction of urea and dihydrazine sulfate (nitrogen-containing, chemical compounds) under high temperature and pressure. The product is then oxidized using sodium chlorate and centrifuged, delivering the azodicarbonamide. Use as a food additive is banned in Australia and Europe.
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