Nitrates in your drinking water are not harmful unless you get too much of them. These particles are naturally occurring and a part of the soil's nitrogen cycle. In fact, most living things need some nitrates to stay in good health. The problem is that it can become toxic if levels get too high. Pregnant women and infants are at special risk for high nitrate health problems.
The good news is you can control nitrates in your drinking water with nitrate filtration. Read on to learn more about the effects of high nitrate levels and how nitrate filters work.
How Do Nitrates Get Into Drinking Water?
Nitrates begin to form when nitrogen in the soil combines with oxygen. Then, nitrifying bacteria break it down into ammonia which breaks down to nitrates. Plants and animals then take up these nitrates to create proteins. However, if the soil has an over-abundance of nitrogen, then it can throw off the balance.
Nitrogen and nitrates can build up from various sources like excess fertilizer and animal waste. When these concentrated amounts wash into a water source, nitrate levels in the water can rise to unnatural highs. When you drink this water, you could be exposed to too many nitrates.
How Do High Nitrates Affect the Body?
Too many nitrates affect how your blood handles oxygen. It can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia, also known as blue baby syndrome. The condition can also lead to other problems like anemia and certain metabolic disorders. Babies under three months old and pregnant women are of special concern for high nitrates. However, people with certain gastric or kidney issues are also vulnerable to problems with excess nitrates.
How Do Nitrate Filters Work?
One way many people deal with high nitrate in their water is with an ion-exchanging filter. These units use resins and salt to absorb the nitrates and change them into less harmful ions like chloride. This system is similar to a traditional water softener.
While a water softener will also remove nitrates, you need a nitrate-specific resin to remove large quantities of it. A nitrate-specific ion exchanger can rid your drinking water of most nitrates. Whatever is left after the process is much less harmful.
If you suspect you have a high nitrate problem in your home's drinking water, have your water tested. If your nitrate reading is high, take steps to reduce the levels. The only way to do this is the remove the nitrate source or install a water nitrate filtration system. Contact a company that sells these systems if you have any questions about their use.