Nitrates in Your Drinking Water

Where do Nitrates Come From?

 Nitrates in well water

If you live in a rural area, nitrates might be of chief concern to you and your family’s health – particularly if you have an infant or a pregnant mother nursing in the home.

Nitrates are an essential source of nitrogen for plants. Synthetically, nitrogen is present in fertilizers that are used to enrich soil, and may be carried by rain, irrigation, flooding and other surface waters through ground water.

Farmers that spread inorganic fertilizer and animal manure on cropland can cause nitrates to accumulate in the groundwater. This compound can also be released with smoke during fires, or industrial/automotive exhaust.

Likewise, nitrates are formed naturally when nitrogen comes into contact with oxygen. This can happen with plants and human/animal waste.

Nitrates are not filtered out or dissolved as they travel through the ground, therefore, wells must be protected from leaching and surface water runoff. Shallow wells that are poorly constructed or located are more likely to be contaminated.

The Risks of Nitrates

The EPA has set a maximum contaminant level of nitrates at 10 mg/L. Anything more than this can lead to a number of health problems, particularly in infants under six months of age, which can develop “blue baby syndrome” a potentially fatal blood disease. Others with a hereditary deficiency of carrying oxygen through their blood stream or reduced gastric acidity could experience health issues.

Likewise, if you are a pet fish enthusiast, elevated levels of nitrates can pollute the aquarium ecosystem and kill your fish.

Prevention

If you live in rural farm country and have a private well, have your water tested for nitrates. The presence of nitrates can also be an indicator of other contaminants in your water. If your well is not constructed properly or in the wrong area, it’s likely nitrates are not the only contaminant leaching in your drinking water.

The two options that Culligan® provides are point-of-entry and point-of-use solutions. A reverse osmosis filter under your sink can reduce up to 99% of contaminants. A Culligan Nitrate Reduction Conditioner can help homes with high nitrate levels.

Though Culligan can help find a solution to your nitrate issues, it’s important to find the source of contamination. Places you should check include:

  • Your septic system and its ability to handle the wastewater
  • Your well and its construction, casing and cover; and its depth
  • If natural runoff contratptions, such as diversion ditches, are present