The nitro group has a very important action mainly on account of the readiness with which it can be introduced into the molecule, but its effect is much less than that of the azo group. The colour produced is generally yellow, which, in accordance with a general rule, is intensified with an increase in the number of groups; compare, for example, mono-, diand tri-nitrobenzene.
It is frequently used as a reducing agent: in acid solutions it reduces ferric to ferrous salts, arsenates to arsenites, permanganates to manganous salts, &c., whilst in alkaline solution it converts many organic nitro compounds into the corresponding amino derivatives.
For example: nitric acid and sulphuric acid readily react with benzene and its homologues with the production of nitro derivatives and sulphonic acids, while in the aliphatic series these acids exert no substituting action (in the case of the olefines, the latter acid forms an addition product); another distinction is that the benzene complex is more stable towards oxidizing agents.
From meta-brombenzoicacid two nitrobrombenzoic ac i ds are obtained on direct nitration; elimination of the bromine atom and the reduction of the nitro to an amino group in these two acids results in the formation of the same ortho-aminobenzoic acid.