What is Nitrate Contamination and What Can You Do About It?

February 13, 2019

If there’s one thing that most people don’t think about, it’s their drinking water. C’mon—don’t we all have way too much to worry about throughout the day? Well, there’s something new to add to the list: nitrate contamination in drinking water. According to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health, “Public water systems serving more than 5.6 million Americans contain concentrations of nitrate at levels found to cause health problems, including cancer and birth defects.” Concerning, right? Don’t worry—we’re here to give you the breakdown on nitrate contamination and what you can do to avoid it at all costs – because you know water safety is kinda our thing.

Nitrates—What Are They?

According to the CDC: “Nitrate is a compound that is formed naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Nitrogen is essential for all living things, but high levels of nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous to health, especially for infants and pregnant women.” Nitrates are also created by plants, animals and smoke from cars or industrial buildings. And as we said before, too much of the stuff has been linked to a slew of cancers, as explained by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies: “But several recent studies have found adverse health effects from concentrations as low as 5 ppm, including elevated risks for bladder, thyroid, colon, and kidney cancers and birth defects.”

So, What Are My Options?

First, if you think your water could be contaminated, you can contact a state certification officer, who’ll come out and check to see if your water is at risk. An important thing to note: you can’t boil out nitrate from your drinking water and doing so can actually ­actually be removed through ion exchange, distillation and reverse osmosis. Don’t know where to even start with all that noise? No worries, it’s already done with Primo water, so you have nothing but the best!

Nitrates Affect All Life

In the natural environment, nitrates only exist at 5 parts per billion (ppb). For comparison, some U.S. tap water has nitrates as high as 40 ppb! Nitrates in your drinking water is one thing, but they can also be dangerous for your pets. That’s why if you own an aquarium, you must take nitrates into consideration to keep a healthy environment for your fish friends. Their tank ecosystem will undoubtedly be different than their natural habitat, but you can still do your best to control dangerous contaminants like nitrates. Overfeeding, overstocking, dirty filters and decaying plants can all contribute to an excess of nitrates which can, in turn, negatively affect your fish, algae, plants or other marine life. In fact, fish can experience nitrate poisoning or even nitrate shock in some extreme cases. Cleaning your aquarium consistently and thoroughly can help keep levels in check, as well as testing the water, too.


Are you surprised to learn about the dangers of nitrates in your water? Tell us what you think in the comments below!