Latest Facebook Health Scare HOAX – Silver Nitro Oxide Cancer

No matter how many times these chain letters are released, people always find a way to share them under the pretense that they are saving the lives of their fellow friends.

True, their intentions are noble, however that does not dispel the fact that their actions are naive, it takes only a few milliseconds to run a Google search on the issue, and voila, the first results that populate the ever growing list point towards the health scare being a good old fashioned HOAX.

What is it you ask?

Silver Nitro Oxide.

According to this health alert, which is circulating vigorously via social media and email, an organization identified as the Medical Research Authority of the US (in our case, Dubai Health Authority)

The creator is smart - made a special one for us Middle East Folk

has discovered that the removable coating on scratch tickets can cause skin cancer. The message claims that a substance contained in the coating called ‘silver nitro oxide’ is the cancer causing agent. The warning advises people against using their fingernails to remove scratch ticket coating because of this supposed cancer risk.

However, there is no credible support whatsoever for the claims made in this supposed health alert.

The coating on scratch tickets is not made from a substance called ‘silver nitro oxide’. In fact, I could not find any evidence that such a compound even exists. There are two chemical compounds with similar names. One is Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, which has been used as an anesthetic in medical procedures since the 1840’s and is also used in rocketry and to enhance engine power in motor racing. The other is Nitric oxide, a diatomic gas that plays a role as a cell signaling molecule in mammals and is also used as an intermediate in the chemical industry. Neither of these compounds is used to create the coating on scratch tickets. In fact, the coating is created from specialized latex or UV inks. A technical article about the material used in such coating published on Quora notes:

The material is known as a UV ink. Not the ink that becomes visible under UV light as is referred to on Wikipedia, but an ink that ‘dries’ under UV radiation.

UV inks are essentially a mixture of colored monomers and oligomers (the individual chemical units that eventually form ‘polymers’ ) and reaction ‘photo-initiators’ that become active when exposed to UV radiation. The monomers and oligomers form a viscous liquid, thus serving simultaneously as the ‘pigment’ and ‘solvent’ of a conventional ink; they do not need an organic solvent as a fluid base, and do not ‘dry’ in air like typical solvent-based inks. On exposure to UV light, the initiators set off the polymerization reaction, rapidly cross-linking the monomers and oligomers into a solid ‘plastic’ polymer, in a process known as ‘curing’. This polymerization process also inspired the alternative naming of UV inks as ‘latex inks’.

The production of scratch-off tickets is a two-step process – a substrate is covered by a thick, smooth layer of UV ink coating, and then printed with a special ‘scratch-off’ black/silver UV ink (scratch-off inks can sometimes be solvent-based ). An optional third step could involve printing text or images over the scratch-off area, with yet another type of UV ink.

There is no mention of a chemical called silver nitro oxide being used in these UV inks. Nor are there any credible reports that suggest a link between inks used on scratch tickets and cancer.

Furthermore, there are no credible references to an organization known as the Medical Research Authority of the US or in Dubai.

Scratch tickets of various types are these days just about everywhere. On any one day vast numbers of people in dozens of countries are likely to be happily scratching away, often using their fingernails as scratching tools. So, of course, any credible link between scratch ticket coating and cancer – even a tenuous one – would have certainly been widely publicized by the main stream media and medical authorities. In reality, there is nary a trace of such media or medical reports.

Thus, this supposed health warning is nothing more than one more sad bit of utterly pointless Internet junk and certainly should not be reposted.

set your mind at ease, this will not kill you. At least not physically, financially though that is a different story!

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