Do you have nitrates in your drinking water?
BY WATER QUALITY ASSOCIATION (WQA)
Drinking water contaminated with nitrates made national headlines recently when a University of California-Davis study predicted the presence of nitrates in drinking water will intensify in the years to come across California’s Salinas and Central valleys.
While the Davis’ study hones in on California’s nitrate problem, nitrates impact water quality across the United States.
What are nitrates?
Nitrates form when microorganisms break down fertilizers, decaying vegetation, manures and other organic materials. Principal sources of nitrate contamination include animal waste, fertilizers and septic tanks.
How are nitrates regulated?
Nitrates are regulated in the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. The law authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine safe levels of potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water. These levels are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG). The EPA sets the MCLG for nitrates at 10 parts per million (ppm).
Where are nitrates a problem?
Nitrate is a tasteless, colorless and odorless compound that homeowners cannot detect unless they have their water chemically analyzed. Municipalities are required to test water sources for nitrates annually and keep nitrates at safe levels. Homeowners with private wells should use a certified laboratory to test their water for nitrates and other contaminants on an annual basis.
Why is it important to regulate nitrate levels?
Although nitrate is necessary for human and environmental health, high concentrations in drinking water can be harmful. Read more…