Nitrocellulose has six times the blasting power of black powder making it an excellent propellant for large munitions and also as a blasting agent.
Nitrocellulose has been detected in tissue samples collected from adult fish living near streams containing nitrocellulose, but there was no biomagnification of nitrocellulose by aquatic species. In aqueous environments, release of nitrocellulose seems to have influenced the physical and chemical properties of the habitats. The alteration to the habitats was critical as nitrocellulose has low toxicities by itself.
Nitrocellulose is a product that has found many uses in everyday life. Its physical form can vary widely from white fibers to thin sheets to thick liquid. Nitrocellulose is used to make everything from smokeless gun powder to waterproof fuses in pyrotechnics, inks, adhesives, varnishes, resins, lacquer coatings, embedding sections in microscopy, photography, electrotechniques, galvanoplasty, and even certain plastics, such as what is used in ping-pong balls. It can be a white, yellow, or transparent plastic, which can be anywhere from brittle to flexible. It can have properties ranging from a strong, resistant plastic to an unstable class B (highly flammable, explosive when confined) explosive material, all determined by the nitrogen content. Other current uses include the making of membranes that are used to immobilize DNA, RNA, or protein, which can then be probed with a labeled sequence or antibody (Western blot assays), microscopy embedding, electrotechniques, skin protectants, microfilters, and others. Nitrocellulose continues to be used in photography, the manufacture of lacquers, patent and natural leathers, artificial pearls, process engraving, and cements.