Tips and Tricks for Nitrate Removal from Water

The increase in nitrate contamination of water has become a major issue due to the potential health hazards it poses. Eliminating nitrates from the water supply is key to ensuring access to safe drinking water. In the following sections, we will examine different approaches and technologies utilized for nitrate removal, and how they can be advantageous for both public and private water systems.

Figure 1 Nitrate removal.

Effects of Nitrates on Water

Nitrates are a prevalent constituent of nitrogen, and they are commonly found in animal droppings, sewage, and fertilizers. When these materials are released into water bodies, they can result in elevated nitrate concentrations, leading to various impacts on the environment and aquatic creatures.

● Eutrophication

Elevated nitrate levels in water pose a significant risk of eutrophication, a phenomenon where excessive nutrient accumulation, particularly nitrates, fuels the proliferation of algae and other aquatic plants. The growth and decay of these organisms can result in a depletion of oxygen in the water, leading to low oxygen levels (hypoxia) or no oxygen (anoxia) in the water body. This could prove harmful to the survival of fish and other aquatic creatures that require oxygen for their sustenance.

● Human Health Implications

When ingested in large amounts, nitrates have the potential to convert into nitrites, which can be harmful to human health. Methemoglobinemia is a condition that infants are particularly vulnerable to, which can lead to a decrease in the blood’s ability to transport oxygen.

How to Remove Nitrates from Water?

1. Ion Exchange

This approach involves utilizing a resin specifically formulated to allure nitrates and substitute them with another ion, commonly hydroxide (OH-). When the water flows through the resin bed, it eliminates nitrates from the water and replaces them with hydroxyl ions, ultimately decreasing the nitrate levels in the water.

Ion exchange is a reliable method for eliminating nitrates and can be applied to both residential and industrial settings. However, over time, the resin may become inundated with nitrates and necessitate periodic regeneration. This entails flushing the resin bed with a salt solution to release the nitrates and renew the resin.

Figure 2 Ion exchange.

2. Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is used to eliminate nitrates by compelling polluted water through a membrane with tiny openings that capture impurities, including nitrates while permitting clean water to flow through. The technique is extensively employed in various settings, including residential, industrial, and commercial, for the efficient elimination of nitrates. Nevertheless, compared to other treatment approaches, it is quite costly, and it may result in significant water waste because a considerable volume of water is usually discarded during the procedure.

What is the Significance of Removing Nitrates from Water?

Figure 3 Removing Nitrates from Water

● Health Concerns

Numerous health concerns have been linked to the presence of excessive levels of nitrates in drinking water. Upon ingestion, nitrates can transform into nitrites within the body, which can impede the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen, resulting in a medical condition known as methemoglobinemia. Furthermore, nitrates have been linked to different types of cancers, such as bladder and ovarian cancer.

● Regulatory Compliance

Municipalities supplying potable water are obliged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to supply drinking water with a maximum nitrate contaminant score of 10mg/L. Failure to comply with this standard can lead to legal and financial penalties.

● Water Quality

Water with elevated levels of nitrates may have an unpleasant taste and odor, making it less desirable to drink. Furthermore, the existence of nitrates in water can corrode plumbing fixtures and pipes, which can discolor the water and potentially damage the infrastructure.

Scroll to Top