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Nitrates and nitrites are naturally occuring substances that are created by the decomposition of organic matter. The nitrate concentration in surface water is normally pretty low, but can be elevated due to agricultural runoff, refuse dump runoff, or contamination with human or animal wastes.


High levels of nitrates can be dangerous for babies or pregnant women because nitrates interfere with the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Nitrate in water is undetectable without testing, as it is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It is highly recommended that any household with pregnant women, infants, nursing women, or elderly people have their water tested for nitrates.

The current EPA guidelines set the limit of nitrates in drinking water at 10 mg/L.

Treatment Methods: ion exchange, distillation, and reverse osmosis

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