Today’s posting deals with detecting and lessening the quantities of nitrates and nitrites in drinking water. we will begin with a blurb from a recent news article about a study which showed a direct relationship between the lowering of nitrite and nitrate consumption by livestock and a lowering of resultant nitrates and nitrites in its waste products.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It may sound overly simplistic, but when it comes to feeding livestock, what goes into an animal greatly influences what comes out. On that obvious principle is based a promising Penn State research initiative involving precision feeding of dairy cattle.

Leading component

Feed management is now a leading component of comprehensive nutrient-management plans, according to project leader Virginia Ishler, nutrient-management extension specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission has determined that, by far, the most cost-effective way to minimize the environmental impact of the large volumes of manure generated within the estuary’s watershed is through adjusting feed formulation for poultry and livestock, Ishler noted. ( source )

Sounds like such a simple theory, but for years apparently no one figured that out… or bothered to actually do a study to prove its validity. The lack of application of this simple theory explains why well owners ought to check their wells for the presence of nitrites and nitrates on a regular basis — especially they live in an agricultural area.

What are the EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Levles for Nitrates and Nitrites?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set MCL for nitrates in drinking water at 10.0 ppm (mg/L) and the MCL for nitrites in drinking water at 1.0 ppm (mg/L).

What can happen if my water has too many nitrates and/or nitrites?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome.” ( source )

The same warning applied for both nitrates and nitrites.

How can I test for nitrates/nitrites in drinking water?

As usual, we first warn that nothing takes the place of a through water analysis performed by a certified water testing laboratory. For those who wish to test on their own between laboratory testing, products such as Eco Check, WaterWorks 9-Way, and WaterWorks Well Water Check offer quick, reliable on-the-spot test results for nitrates and nitrites in drinking water and other vital drinking water parameters.

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