Blue baby syndrome. A very good reason to test the water coming up from your well for nitrates.
Blue baby syndrome can also be caused by Methemoglobinemia. It is believed to be caused by high nitrate contamination in ground water resulting in decreased oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in babies leading to death. The groundwater is thought to be contaminated by leaching of nitrate generated from fertilizer used in agricultural lands and waste dumps . It may also be related to some pesticides (DDT, PCBs etc), which cause ecotoxicological problems in the food chains of living organisms, increasing BOD, which kills aquatic animals. ( source )
So… elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can lead to ‘methemoglobinemia’, but what does that word MEAN?
The disorder methemoglobinemia typically means the blood contains elevated levels of methemoglobin (metHb), a form of hemoglobin that really and truly likes to attach itself to oxygen molecules — and if present in too great a quantity it will latch onto enough oxygen molecules to cause living tissue to die as a result of oxygen-deprivation.
Where does the ‘blue’ part of blue baby syndrome come from?
Without proper oxygenation of red blood cells a condition known as cyanosis occurs. Note: The term has nothing to do with cyanide, though cyanide poisoning can definitely result in skin turning a shade of blue due to oxygen deprivation.
But, since the topic of cyanide has come up, if you believe you may have someone out to get you, or perhaps you live close to industrial facilities that may make use of cyanide in their processes, maybe you should consider testing your water for cyanide. The Cyanide Emergency Test Kit provides presence/absence test results if it detects cyanide levels between 2.0 ppm and 1,700 ppm.
Getting back to the topic of nitrates, though, health officials and water quality professionals agree that owners of wells should, at the very least, periodically test their well water for the presence of nitrates & nitrites, coliform bacteria, lead, copper, total iron, total hardness, pH, and heavy metals.
Moral of the story?
In the end, if you have a private well, the responsibility for making sure the quality of the water coming out of that well falls squarely on… your shoulders. Therefore, test your well water at least once a year. It’s your well, your water, and ultimately your LIFE.