What are nitrates?

Nitrates are naturally occurring forms of nitrogen found in the environment. Nitrate is:

What are the health effects of nitrates?

Infants are at highest risk for elevated nitrate levels. The primary health concern associated with nitrate exposure is methaemoglobinaemia, or blue-baby syndrome. The nitrate enters the bloodstream where it interferes with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

The symptoms of methaemoglobinaemia include:

Most cases occur in infants under 1 year of age. Infants less than 3 months of age are particularly susceptible. If your child is experiencing these symptoms see your health care provider.

How are nitrates tested in water?

Municipal water is tested for nitrates and treated if the results are above the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards of 10 mg/L. Private drinking water systems should be tested for nitrates especially if infants or expectant mothers are using the water. Nitrate testing needs to be done through an accredited private lab.

Common sources of nitrate in well water are:

What should you do if you have high nitrate levels?

This item was last modified on April 19, 2024