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Nitrates

What are nitrates?

Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combines with various organic and inorganic compounds. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted into nitrites. The greatest use of nitrates is as a fertilizer.

How do nitrates get into my drinking water?

Nitrates are found at low levels from naturally occurring sources, but high levels (more than 2 parts per million) usually indicate human-caused contamination. Possible sources of nitrate in ground water include septic systems, fertilizers (lawns or agricultural), and animal wastes, either from improperly managed lagoons or land application at high rates.

What are the health effects of nitrates?

High levels of nitrates are toxic to humans. Nitrate exposure is especially dangerous for infants, and anyone with infants or expecting a baby in the home should have their well water tested for nitrates.

Current public health standards for safe drinking water require that maximum contaminant level (MCL) should not exceed nitrate concentrations of 10 ppm as nitrate-N or 45 ppm as nitrate (10 ppm nitrate-N is the same as 45 ppm nitrate).