By AXEON Water Technologies | Technical Articles

Technical Articles



Serious illness and even death, especially due to "Blue Baby Syndrome."


Since they are very soluble and do not bind to soils, nitrates have a high potential to migrate to ground water. Because they do not evaporate, nitrates/nitrites are likely to remain in water until consumed by plants or other organisms

Health Concerns:

Excessive levels of nitrate in drinking water have caused serious illness and sometimes death. The serious illness in infants or "Blue Baby Syndrome" is due to the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by the body, which can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the childs blood. This can be an acute condition in which health deteriorates rapidly over a period of days. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin, diuresis, increased starchy deposits and hemorrhaging of the spleen.

Action Level:

Over 10.0 ppm (parts per million).

More Information:

Nitrates are often found in water supplies which are in areas where there is moderate to heavy use of fertilizers. Nitrates can cause Methemoglobinemia, which is alo know as "Blue Baby Syndrome". This is a serious condition occuring in infants and newborn animals, whereby the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is reduced. 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.

The EPA has an excellent INFORMATION PAGE ON NITRATE and has approved Ion Exchange and Reverse Osmosis as treatment methods for the removal of nitrates from drinking water. However, because of their small chemical size, nitrates are sometimes difficult to remove through the process of reverse osmosis drinking water units. Typically these systems operate at a household pressure of about 50 PSI and remove less than 80% of the nitrates. Commercial reverse osmosis units operating at 150 PSI or more will remove 92% or more.

In applications where higher percentages of nitrate removal are required or where total house treatment is required for a lower cost than whole house reverse osmosis, ion exchange is the best answer. US Water offer two types of nitrate removal systems: (1) Systems which just remove nitrate; and (2) Systems which remove nitrate and soften the water as well.


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