Nitrates and nitrites are related compounds that are produced naturally through the breakdown of organic matter. Inorganic nitrates are also a common component of fertilizers. Both of these compounds can make their way into your drinking water, and high levels of nitrate in water are often caused by fertilizer runoff from farms and gardens. At high concentrations, nitrates in drinking water can be dangerous, especially to children and people who have certain enzyme deficiencies. Read on to learn more about nitrates and nitrites in water, as well as how to remove them.
Nitrates and nitrites are naturally occurring compounds that are formed when organic matter decomposes. In addition, various inorganic nitrates are widely used in fertilizers, which can then contaminate your water supply. Nitrates and nitrites are both ions that contain nitrogen and oxygen; nitrates include three oxygen atoms to nitrite's two. These compounds can also be converted one to the other, and are often grouped together when discussing their role as water contaminants. Nitrates in drinking water are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and they cannot be detected unless water samples are laboratory tested.
Potassium and ammonium nitrate, both widely used in lawn and garden fertilizers, are the most common inorganic nitrates in water. Since most nitrogenous materials in natural waters tend to convert to nitrate, all sources of combined nitrogen are potential sources of contamination. Nitrates are very soluble and do not bind to soils, so they can easily get into groundwater. In addition, these compounds do not evaporate and often remain in water until consumed by plants or animals.
Are High Nitrate Levels in Water Dangerous?
High nitrates in water have caused serious illness and sometimes death. This compound is particularly dangerous for babies, children, and adults who have a certain type of enzyme deficiency. In addition, people who have lower levels of stomach acid may be more susceptible to nitrate in drinking water. Nitrates are converted into nitrites in the body, which is why both can be dangerous.
The problem with nitrates and nitrites is that they affect how the blood carries oxygen. Nitrites can oxidize the iron in your blood, making it unable to transport oxygen. High nitrate intake can lead to methemoglobinemia and some cases of "blue baby syndrome, " an acute condition in which health deteriorates rapidly over a period of days. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin, headache, fatigue, and changes in mental status, and in severe cases, coma and death.
The EPA has set the maximum contaminant level of nitrates allowed in drinking water at 10 mg/L NO3-N or 45 mg/NO3. Families with children who get their water from private wells should monitor nitrate levels in water, as should people who have been diagnosed as having low levels of the methemoglobin reductase enzyme or low stomach acid.
Nitrates and nitrites can be difficult to remove from water. Unlike many chemicals, these compounds cannot be treated with standard granular activated carbon filters. Instead, a special anion resin ion exchange media specifically designed for nitrate removal needs to be used; standard anion resins may actually make the problem worse.
US Water nitrate removal cartridges effectively treat high nitrates in water by using ResinTech® SIR-100-HP resin. Its unique functionality offers 25 times greater affinity for nitrate than standard strong-based anion resins. This cartridge provides nitrate removal efficiently with low leakage, and eliminates the possibility of nitrate dumping upon exhaustion.
The Features and Benefits of US Water System Nitrate Filters
ResinTech® SIR-100-HP media is certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA). In fact, it's WQA Gold Seal Certified and meets NSF/ANSI 61 guidelines. This nitrate removal resin has the highest operating capacity of any nitrate selective resin. ResinTech®SIR-100-HP is uniform particle size, low-pressure drop, and has superior physical stability.
US Water nitrate cartridges are double-open end cartridges that fit standard residential and industrial housings, which means that you have the flexibility to use our cartridges in any standard size filter system. This is important because we think that you deserve the freedom to choose the best filters for you and not be tied to one proprietary system. Our cartridges are also large, so they offer up to 50% higher capacity and extended life.
To ensure consistent quality and peace of mind for your, the consumer, all drinking water media from US Water Systems is WQA Gold Seal or NSF certified. We produce quality products right here in the U.S.A.
Do you need a filter to remove nitrates in drinking water? Consider these applications:
Drinking Water - If laboratory testing indicates that you have elevated levels of nitrates in your water, the use of a nitrate removal cartridge can help clean up water that comes from a municipal source.
Private Wells - About 15% of the American population gets drinking water from private wells, and these wells are not subject to EPA regulations. Most wells provide safe, clean water, but occasionally they can become contaminated. It is the responsibility of the well owner to maintain and treat their wells. If you live in an area where a lot of fertilizers are used (whether on farms, lawns, or gardens), you may have high nitrates in your water.
Targeted Removal For Specific Environmental Conditions - Because of its ability to remove nitrates preferentially in the presence of sulfates and other divalent ions, you may need a nitrate removal cartridge if your water contains multiple contaminants.
Think you might have elevated nitrate levels in your water? Call the Certified Water Specialists at US Water Systems at 1-800-608-8792.