Why does nitric acid (HNO3) turns skin yellow?

Because of the reaction of the nitric acid compound with keratin.

From Yahoo Answers:

"Because one amino acid in skin protein is tyrosine. This is a phenolic compound, HO-C6H4-. Phenols are very reactive to nitration, giving nitrophenols, HO-C6H3(-NO2)-. Nitrophenols are yellow. If you want a total gross out, pour ammonia over skin that has been stained by HNO3. The reaction gives a salt, NH4+ -O-C6H3(-NO2)-, which is orange.

Other amino acids such as phenylalanine and tryptophan are also subject to nitration, giving slightly yellow compounds, but not as readily as phenolis tyrosine."
source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070725130333AAkFXaZ

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