Monday, 8 July 2013

Health Risks Of Nitrates In Drinking Water

Nitrates in drinking water originate from the nitrogen in the soil, and are part of the normal nitrogen cycle, according to a publication from Colorado State University. Plants take in most of the nitrates in the environment, however, excessive levels of nitrates in the environment can accumulate nitrates in drinking water. When excessive levels of nitrates build up, there can be health consequences for both adults and children.                                
Nitrite is absorbed in the blood, and hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying component of blood) is converted to methemoglobin. Methemoglobin does not carry oxygen efficiently. This results in a reduced oxygen supply to vital tissues such as the brain. Methemoglobin in infant blood cannot change back to hemoglobin, which normally occurs in adults. Severe methemoglobinemia can result in brain damage and death.

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Sources Of Nitrates
Well water flowing into individual homes, or used as the primary source of water for a city or municipality, may be high in nitrates, particularly if the well is in an agricultural area. Agricultural waste, sewage systems, fertilizer run-off and crops left to decay on the ground all contribute to high levels of nitrates ending up in the water system. The Argonne National Laboratory indicates that the increase in nitrogen-based fertilizers in the United States raises the risk of unhealthy levels of nitrates entering the water system.

Infants younger than six months of age are particularly susceptible to blue baby syndrome, or methemoglobinemia. If your baby drinks plain water with high levels of nitrates, or formula prepared with water containing high nitrate levels,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates that long-term, chronic intake of drinking water high in nitrates may cause diuresis. This condition causes your body to increase its production of urine, as well as cause you to develop "starchy deposits" in your body and cause your spleen to hemorrhage. Consult your doctor if you suspect that your drinking water may contain unacceptable levels of nitrates, or if you begin to experience increased urine production.

Monitor the levels of nitrates in your private well by contacting your state or local health department and inquiring about free or low-cost water testing. A qualified professional can help you install specially designed water filtration systems that may be able to remove excessive levels of nitrates from your water. If your baby drinks untreated well-water, monitor his skin for color changes and immediately contact your doctor if you notice any unusual color changes around his nose or mouth.

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