Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Nitrate

  • Nitrate is a compound that forms naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Nitrates are made in large amounts by plants and animals and can also be released in smoke and industrial or automotive exhaust.
  • Nitrogen is essential for all living things, however high levels of nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous to health, especially for infants and pregnant women.
  • If your water comes from a public water supply, it will regularly be tested for nitrate.
    • Public water systems should not have nitrate above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
  • If your water comes from a private well the only way to know if there is nitrate in the water is to test it (springtime is best!). If nitrate levels are above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) consider appropriate treatment/filtration options, or consuming water from a different source.
  • Nitrate in water can also be an indicator of contamination with human or animal waste. It is important to also test your water for coliform and E. coli bacteria.
  • It is important to test your well water before choosing a treatment system.
  • Naturally occurring nitrate can be found in groundwater and surface water at levels that do not generally cause health problems.
  • The most common way of ingesting nitrates is through drinking water. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted to nitrites.
  • Nitrogen is essential for all living things, but high levels of nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous to health.
  • Sources of nitrates in drinking water can include runoff from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; and erosion of natural deposits.
  • Nitrate toxicity could cause illness, with the most vulnerable population being infants. Infants below four months who drink water containing nitrate above 10 mg/L could become seriously ill with blue baby syndrome (methemoglobinemia). Symptoms of this nitrate toxicity include shortness of breath and bluish skin coloring.
  • Testing your private well water is the best way to know the amount of nitrate in your drinking water.
  • Nitrogen is essential for all living things and can be found naturally occurring in groundwater and surface water at levels that do not generally cause health problems.
  • Sources of nitrates in drinking water can include runoff from fertilizer use, leaking from septic tanks, sewage, and erosion of natural deposits.
  • High levels of nitrate (above 10 mg/L) in drinking water can be dangerous to health.
    • Infants below four months who drink water containing nitrate above 10 mg/L could become seriously ill with blue baby syndrome (methemoglobinemia). Symptoms of this nitrate toxicity include shortness of breath and bluish skin coloring.
  • Public water systems should not have nitrate above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
  • If you are on a private well, have your drinking water tested regularly. If nitrate levels are above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) consider appropriate treatment/filtration options, or consuming water from a different source.
  • Nitrate in water can also be an indicator of contamination with human or animal waste. It is important to also test your water for coliform and E. coli bacteria.
Nitrate in water can also be an indicator of contamination with human or animal waste. Take these steps to help protect your private well water source and prevent contamination:
  • Protect your water source from nitrate, waterborne pathogens and other contaminants:
    • Keep possible contaminant sources a safe distance from any well. If you live in an area with a high density of private wells, you can be a good steward by not disposing of manure and chemicals on your property and by keeping possible contaminant sources on your property a good distance from the well head on your neighbor's property.
    • Make sure your well has a sanitary cap or seal.
    • Make sure the ground is sloped away from the well so water flows away from the well head.
    • Make sure the casing extends 18 inches above the land surface (NMAC 19.27.4).
    • Keep your septic system well maintained. Learn more about private wells and septic systems.
  • Prepare when flooding is likely:


Learn more about testing

Learn more about private well water and treatment
Treatment of water can vary depending on water chemistry. It is important to test your water before choosing a water treatment system. A licensed well contractor or water quality professional may help with choosing the right treatment system for your water chemistry. Learn how to hire a contractor from wellowner.org.

For additional guidance choosing a treatment system certified to remove Nitrate consult with the Water Quality Association or at 630-505-0160 or NSF international (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) or at 1-800-NSF-MARK (1-800-673-6275).

Learn more about testing

Learn more about private well water and treatment
If you get your water from a public drinking water system:
If you get your water from a private well, you should have your well water tested:
The NM EPHT website is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number, 6 NUE1EH001354 (previously, 5 U38EH000949), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC or do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 03 December 2020 21:42:48 from New Mexico EPHT Tracking Public Web site: https://nmtracking.org/ ".

Content updated: Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:26:02 MDT