Water testing for nitrate in drinking water: test your tap water and take no chances!
Nitrate in water is a topic that crops up in politics and the media time and time again. In the UK, there is a high concentration of nitrate in groundwater and groundwater contributes to the public water supply. The British Geological Survey (BGS) estimates that nitrate concentrations in UK groundwater are rising at an average of 0.3mg/l per year. If ingested via drinking water, it can have adverse health effects on the consumer. A nitrate test shows you if your tap water contains nitrate and if there is a potential health risk.
Nitrate in water: test shows if your tap water contains nitrate!
Nitrate has been used in fertiliser for many years and so is becoming more and more of a problem in groundwater. Nitrate naturally occurs in the soil and is essential for humans as well as animals and many plants. However, because nitrate is an effective source of nutrients for plants, it is commonly used as a large-scale fertiliser on fields, meaning the contamination of ground and surface water with nitrate is increasing. In agriculture, the controversial and widespread use of nitrate fertilisers is said to increase yield. In addition, fertilisers containing nitrate are applied extensively and in large quantities to fields, meaning the nitrate enters the surface water and groundwater. Plants, however, cannot utilise such large quantities of nitrate, and so it leaches into groundwater through rock strata.
Around 30% of the public water supply in England comes from groundwater. This groundwater often contains high levels of nitrate, which can be traced back to large quantities of fertilisers applied to fields as mentioned above. However, another cause is the steadily growing industry of factory farming, because excrement from cows and other animals also contains nitrate. As the factory farming industry grows, so does the concentration of nitrate on the fieds in the form of manure. Fertilising with animal manure exacerbates the problem even more.
Plants can only absorb and use a limited amount of nitrate. The excess leaches into groundwater after having accumulated in the soil and then been washed into the deeper layers of soil by rain or thaw. The high nitrate content of groundwater has an influence on our drinking water and is problematic for the water supplier when it comes to treating groundwater.
High risk: Blue baby syndrome in babies caused by nitrate in drinking water!
The maximum concentration for nitrate in UK drinking water is 50 milligrams per litre of water. If the water is used to prepare baby formula, experts recommend that it contain no more than 10 milligrams per litre. The reason for this is that a high concentration of nitrate in water can have serious, long-term consquences on a child's health, particularly in the first six months of its life. If nitrate is converted to nitrite in the body, the nitrogen molecules are able to bond more easily in the blood, impairing the transport and processing of oxygen. These processes mean that nitrate in water can lead to blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal.
However, older children and adults can also suffer from serious health problems due to nitrate in water. If a high concentration is ingested over a longer period of time, so-called nitrosamine tumours can form, which are considered carcinogenic.
Experts recommend testing your tap water for nitrate, especially if there are children in the household. Our simple Nitrate Test is ideal for this purpose, as it rapidly indicates whether your tap water is suitable for preparing baby formula. The statutory limit for nitrate in drinking water is complied with by water companies, and the water treated accordingly. Infants and people with weak immune systems are not out of danger however, because experts believe nitrate levels in water are still too high for babies. If an infant's blood can no longer properly transport oxygen due to the aforementioned chemical reaction whereby nitrate is converted to nitrite, it can be fatal.
You can find out more about nitrate in drinking water in our drinking water magazine!
Private well users should test their water for nitrate too!
Water that has been extracted from a private well is especially high risk. This water does not undergo strict monitoring by the waterworks and flows directly into the pipes of the households connected to it. There is more of a risk of high nitrate levels in agricultural regions, but not only in these regions. It is therefore worth testing your water for nitrate, and is recommended by experts.
A nitrate test can provide assurance or reveal high concentrations of nitrate in your tap water!
Attention: To test for bacteria, germs and heavy metals in your drinking water in addition, we recommend our Combined Test. You can find more information here.