Does Your Water Have Nitrates?
Most Americans are becoming more aware of their drinking water and what it may or may not have in it. It is so important to be aware of what we are infusing our bodies with and how it might impact our life in the long term as well as the lives of others in our household. We are all deserving of a long, healthy, full life. Drinking water is so important to good health; we must be drinking clean water.
In all water, ground and surface water, nitrates are a compound that is commonly found. In nature, nitrogen and oxygen combine to form nitrogen-containing compounds. Plant growth requires nitrates, so we have learned to make concentrated nitrogen-containing fertilizers to use on our lawns, gardens, and fields in agricultural areas. When plants decompose, they naturally release nitrogen which combines with oxygen in the air and forms nitrates. During a rainfall, surface water runs through and over the soil coming into contact with this nitrogen and carries it down to the underground drinking water. Obviously nitrates are a part of our natural environment, add to that the man-made nitrates and we have a nitrate overload. This overload is part of the reason we are finding higher levels of nitrates in drinking water supplies.
Drinking water isn’t the only place we are exposed to nitrates; we have it coming at us from meats like bacon and sausage and vegetables like cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, and root vegetables like potatoes, beets, and turnips. Fortunately the human body is equipped to deal with a certain level of nitrates and is capable of disposing of them. However, when we have nitrates coming at us from every angle, there is an increased risk. Further, the exposure to nitrates creates an even greater risk in infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and elderly people. For example, in infants under 6 months, the enzyme system for counteracting nitrates is not developed so methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome) can occur. This also can happen in older individuals who have impaired enzyme systems.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a level for nitrates at 10 milligrams per liter (mg/l). Public water supplies with higher levels are required to notify the health department and take corrective action. Shallow, rural domestic wells are most likely to be contaminated with nitrates. The most commonly contaminated wells are those in areas where nitrogen-based fertilizers are in widespread use. A recent U.S. Geological Survey study showed that more than 8,200 wells nationwide were contaminated with nitrate levels above the EPA standard. In fact the EPA has estimated that approximately 1.2% of community water wells and 2.4% of private wells exceed the nitrate standard. During drought conditions and during spring melt off both domestic and public water systems using surface water as a source can show increased nitrate levels.
Fortunately there are solutions to this situation. There are water treatment options that will help remove the nitrates from your drinking water. Reverse Osmosis systems and water coolers are the most common and economical for the home user.
If you are choosing to use a nitrate removal system, it is very important to choose a system that has the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification. The NSF is a not for profit, non-governmental organization that provides standards development, product certification, education, and risk management for public health and safety. Any drinking water system with their certification seal will deliver on its promise to supply clean, healthy water.
Being healthy and living longer fuller lives is becoming more of a focus. We all want drinking water we can trust to be both safe and healthy to drink. We want to know that the water we infuse our body with will not have long term devastating effects for ourselves or our children. Research and information can be very beneficial in helping us make choices to guarantee our health. Choose your water treatment system wisely. Remember clean, healthy, great-tasting water doesn’t have to cost the earth.
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