Beware of Nitrate Contaminated Water
One of the biggest reasons residents in our area look for water filtration systems is due to the level of nitrates found in our drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently estimated that as many as 52 percent of community wells and 57 percent of domestic water wells are contaminated by a measurable amount of nitrates and nitrites. In Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley of California, it is estimated that a staggering one in three domestic wells are contaminated with levels well over the EPA’s recommended guidelines of a maximum 10 parts per million (ppm).
Nitrates can find their way into our drinking water supply from several different sources. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen and is naturally a part of our soil and groundwater; however some areas have significantly higher concentrations due to other sources of contamination. For example, when fertilizers and manure are used for crops, they react with the natural bacteria living in the soil and their nitrogen component is changed into nitrate. Nitrates can also seep into the ground through septic systems as well as from irrigation and rain water that transports the nitrates through the soil into the groundwater below.
The reason why nitrate contamination is such a concern is because of the severe health issues related to ingestion. When an individual consumes water contaminated with high levels of nitrates, it affects how well the body is able to transport oxygenated red blood cells through the vascular system, which lowers the body’s overall blood oxygen levels. Infants in particular are especially vulnerable to nitrate contaminated drinking water; infants exposed to high levels of nitrates can develop “blue baby syndrome” which can be fatal.
Reducing nitrate levels in drinking water is a fairly easy task, however there are only a few ways to do so. The EPA states that a Reverse Osmosis (RO) drinking water system has proven effective in nitrate reduction as well as ion exchange and electrodialysis. Boiling your drinking water or using a carbon filter such as Brita will not remove or reduce nitrate levels at all. In fact boiling your water will increase the concentration of nitrates because some water will evaporate through steam but the nitrates stay right where they are.
RO systems filter out a host of harmful bacteria and contaminants and are estimated to reduce nitrate levels by as much as 92 percent. It is important to know what is in your drinking water, even if you have community water. Having an independent lab test your water is the best way to know what might be lurking in there, but you can also get a water quality report from your local water utility company. Every community water system is required to prepare a water quality report yearly by the EPA which is a good starting point to see what is in your water. Well water is NOT regulated by the EPA however so if your drinking water is supplied by a well it is imperative that you have your water tested to make sure it is safe for consumption.
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