Nitrate Filtration System Installation in CT
Nitrates & Private Well Drinking Water in CT
If your drinking water is sourced from a private well, you are likely to already be aware of the importance of testing for water contaminants. While you may be familiar with testing for the presence of arsenic and other common contaminants in your area, you may have overlooked nitrates and the impact they can have on your water safety.
What is Nitrate?
Nitrate is a naturally formed contaminant, created when nitrogen is combined with oxygen. Although nitrogen is essential for all life, high levels in drinking water can be a danger to health, especially for pregnant women and infants. Nitrates can also occur as a result of human activity as they are produced by industrial and agricultural activities, automotive exhaust, and smoke.
How Does Nitrate Enter Drinking Water?
Nitrates naturally occur in both surface and groundwater at levels that are not generally considered to be a hazard to health. High nitrate levels in well water are often the result of the well location, improper well construction, and improper disposal of waste or overuse of chemical fertilizers in the area. Nitrates can be particularly problematic in areas of agricultural activity since fertilizer products can allow nitrates to soak into the groundwater. You may also experience a higher nitrate level from water runoff containing animal feed or waste. Your well may be more vulnerable to contamination after a period of flooding, especially if the well is shallow or has been submerged by the floodwater for an extended period.
Nitrates & Health
The main health hazard from nitrate-contaminated drinking water is from nitrate being transformed into nitrite within the digestive system. Nitrite oxidizes iron in the red blood cells, creating methemoglobin. This lacks the hemoglobin’s ability to carry oxygen, restricting the oxygen supply to cells around the body. This condition is called methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome” since the skin and veins develop a blue tint. Typically, if you are over the age of one year old, you will have an innate ability to rapidly convert the methemoglobin back to oxyhemoglobin.
This keeps the level of methemoglobin in the red blood cells low, limiting the potential impact on health. Unfortunately, infants have not yet developed the enzyme system to complete this conversion process, allowing methemoglobinemia to develop. This condition can also occur in certain individuals with a genetic impairment, restricting metabolism of methemoglobin. The condition can be treated, but if left unchecked there is a risk of death.
Is There Nitrate in Your Drinking Water?
Unfortunately, nitrate is colorless and odorless, so detection can be difficult without laboratory testing. While the EPA regulates the levels of nitrates in municipal drinking water to a maximum of 10 milligrams per liter, the responsibility for the safety of private wells remain with the property owner. This means that private well owners will need to arrange for regular testing to ensure that their water supply is free of nitrates and other contaminants. Fortunately, there are several water treatment options to remove nitrates from drinking water. Boiling water will not remove any nitrates, in fact it makes the condition actually worse! Consult a local WQA certified professional water treatment expert to determine whether you have nitrate in your water supply and advice on how to eliminate it.
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