The word “nitrate” sounds rather intimidating in of itself, but what are nitrates and should we be worried about them? Nitrates are compounds that are made up of oxygen and nitrogen molecules which are not on their own dangerous to humans, nor are they typically dangerous combined as nitrates. However, like with most things in life, too much of anything can be bad for you.

Nitrates naturally occur in water and in most cases don’t cause any issues and are in fact usually helpful to the life around them. We often consume nitrates in our drinking water and our food without any damage being caused to the human body. Recently, however, nitrate levels have been rising a lot in groundwater especially in more rural areas and even more so in areas that use well water.

Overly high concentrations of nitrates can cause issues with blood being able to transport oxygen throughout the body. Too much of this can lead to many of the effects of suffocating while still breathing as sufficient oxygen isn’t able to be transported to the organs to keep them operating. Local municipalities are of course required to monitor the water levels for nitrates in order to keep the population safe, but occasional spikes can sometimes go undetected for longer periods of time.

In other cases over exposure over long enough periods of time is enough to cause problems even when the nitrates are kept below acceptable levels. While this can be dangerous for adults it is even more so a concern for homeowners with younger members of the family with smaller bodies, such as with infants or toddlers, which have less capacity for filtering out larger amounts of these nitrates.

Fortunately, these issues are very rare and nitrates levels are normally kept at safe levels. This being said, testing of the water for these nitrates can be a very good step in avoiding these issues altogether. Nitrates are highly soluble in water and are therefore completely invisible to the human eye. Testing using specific compounds is necessary for detecting nitrates in the water and professional filtering is required for reducing the amount of nitrates in the water.

Homeowners in any situation or environment can benefit from having water testing done for many unhealthy things in the water including nitrates. However, homeowners in more rural areas would benefit the most from testing for nitrates and filtering to keep the amounts at safe levels.

Many water systems can very easily remove nitrates through processes such as ion exchange or reverse osmosis. While these processes are not included in all water filtration systems a professional test can reveal whether or not they are necessary for particular homeowner concerns. These processes can be included in most water filtration or water softener systems before install should they be deemed important to have depending on the water conditions for that particular area or homeowner.

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