Nitrates In Drinking Water – What Levels?

What Levels Of Nitrates Are Being Found In Drinking Water?

If you have your own water supply, which draws from groundwater, there’s no federal government regulation covering this. This means that it is the owners’ responsibility to ensure the water is tested. Obviously depending on the results, nitrate and other pollutants need treatment too. This also falls to the responsibility of the owner. This is why it’s important to use a reliable test kit.

While nitrate does occur naturally in groundwater these will vary from state to state, town to town.  Concentrations greater than 3 mg/L however, usually are considered as a sign of contamination (Madison and Brunett, 1985). Using nitrate test strips will give you an indication as to the water quality at your home.

Nitrates In Water

With self supplied drinking water being popular, figures show that around  98% of which is from groundwater wells. Often, increased levels of nitrate in groundwater are attributed to increased use of fertilizers on the ground which soaks into the earth. Other contributing factors are run-off from barnyards, septic tanks, manure storage or spreading operations and feed areas. Naturally, it’s fair to assume areas with high fertilizer usage can expect higher levels of nitrate.


Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. Due to the risk of methemoglobinemia,  to infants, it’s important to keep testing levels.  Also known as “blue baby” disease,  this is a condition that doesn’t affect older children. Short-term exposure to drinking water with a nitrate level at or just above the health standard of 10 mg/l nitrate-N is a potential health problem primarily for infants.


Why Infants Are At Risk?

Babies consume large quantities of water relative to their body weight. This makes sense when you look at the size & weight of a baby. This happens especially if the water is used to mix powdered or concentrated formulas or juices. If you’re mixing up food or formula and the water isn’t safe, this is where problems can begin.

The advantages of using test strips mean that there’s no need to send the specimens or go to the laboratory. You can get almost instant results while you wait a matter of minutes. There’s no need to wait days or even weeks.

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