The name of the covalent compound N2O5 is dinitrogen pentoxide, more commonly known as nitrogen pentoxide. This covalent compound is part of a bigger group of compounds, nitrogen oxides, created purely from nitrogen and oxygen.
Dinitrogen pentoxide, according to Reference.com, is a rare compound that has two structures. Although it most commonly appears as a salt, it also takes on the structure of a nonpolar molecule if certain conditions are met. It was once used in chloroform, but its instability and explosive nature made it too dangerous. However, it is currently used in explosives.
Dinitrogen pentoxide, as well as the rest of the nitrogen oxide family, is toxic when it decomposes into a gaseous state. When inhaled, the gas causes respiratory problems, such as a cough, sore throat, headache and vertigo. Eventually, it inflames the lungs and can cause respiratory failure.
This compound was originally prepared in a laboratory in 1840 by M.H. Deville by dehydrating nitric acid through phosphorous pentoxide or by treating silver nitrate with chlorine. However, it occurs naturally in minute amounts from bacterial and volcanic production. Man produces major amounts of this toxic substance by burning fossil fuels, manufacturing industrial goods, burning plastics, welding operations and smoking.