What is It?
-Nitrates are nitrogen-oxygen chemical compounds utilizing various organic and inorganic materials.
-The most common use of nitrates is as a fertilizer.
Why is it in the environment?
-Nitrates are usually found in the environment as fertilizer or from animal waste.
-Inorganic nitrates which may contaminate drinking water are potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate both of which are widely used as fertilizer.
How does it affect water quality?
-Since they are very soluble and do not bind to soils, nitrates have a high potential to migrate to ground water.
-Nitrates are likely to remain in surface water until it is consumed by plants or other organisms.
How does it affect adults?
-Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted into nitrites.
-Chronic exposure to nitrites above the MCL may lead to: diuresis- which is an excessive increase in amount of urination, as well as starchy deposits and hemorrhaging of the spleen.
How does it affect children?
-Nitrite, leads to blue baby disease in infants.
-This is characterized by interference with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the child’s blood.
-Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin.
What are the EPA regulations?
-The MCL for nitrates has been set at 10 ppm, and for nitrites at 1 ppm.