Drinking water contains hundreds of contaminants, and there are different kinds of water filters to remove them. But how do you know which one is the best whole house water filter? The choice for the best water filtration system largely depends on your needs, i.e., your water source and the type of contaminants, such as nitrates, you want to remove.
Around 3.5 million people die each year due to inadequate water supply. If we put this number into perspective, approximately 6 to 7 people die each minute. Some of the major contaminants in your water include nitrates and nitrites. In this article, we will learn about the source of nitrates in water, their harmful effects, and the kinds of water filters that effectively remove them.
Source of Nitrates
Nitrates are chemical compounds formed when nitrogen combines with oxygen to form NO3-. They occur in surface water and do not harm our bodies in such low quantities. Problems arise when they enter the water through unnatural means. Nitrates are common components of fertilizers and explosives.
An essential property of nitrates includes the ability to form protein. For this reason, they are widely used in chemical fertilizers to enhance plant growth. Water sources close to agricultural land contain very high levels of nitrates because of frequent surface runoff. Many animal feeds also contain them because of their muscle protein-building properties.
Nitrates enter the water from various industrial sources as well. Smoke from factory chimneys contains high levels of nitrogen compounds. If there are freshwater or groundwater sources near the factories, they may become contaminated. Nitrates are also released in high quantities from the exhausts of cars, trucks, and buses. Furthermore, nitrogen compounds are frequent byproducts of food processing.
Poor Construction of Wells
Nitrates from agricultural land or industrial waste may not harm the water if wells are properly constructed. The improper construction of wells is a major reason for nitrate contamination. The outer walls of wells near farming land must be high so that surface water does not enter them after rainfall. In addition to this, flooding does not help. If wells are submerged in floodwater, nitrates will enter the well.
Recommended Quantity of Nitrates
So, the question is, what level of nitrates in the water that comes to your home is okay? Above what level should you be worried and take action? In drinking water, nitrate levels can be measured in two ways. These include measuring the level of nitrogen or both nitrogen and oxygen levels. The federal standard for nitrates in drinking water is 10 milligrams per liter (10 mg/l). However, levels much below that can impact your health. Even 3 mg/l can be dangerous, especially for infants and pregnant women.
How will you know the nitrate levels in your drinking water source? If you have a private well, you can purchase a high-quality water test kit. Search online for that. Don’t buy any test kits from Home Depot or the hardware store. They’re not good enough. Once you’ve determined that you have nitrates in your water, reach out to a trustworthy ecologist to decide how to remove them.
How Do Nitrates Affect Your Health?
You must be thinking nitrogen is present all around us in the atmosphere. In fact, the air is 78% nitrogen. So, compounds of the same element shouldn’t be harmful, right? But this is a wrong assumption. Most compounds have different chemical structures and properties than the individual elements that they are made up of. Although nitrogen gas does not pose a health risk, high levels of nitrates in drinking water are not recommended. Here are some health risks associated with them:
- High nitrate levels can lead to a condition known as blue baby syndrome in babies. This impairs the oxygen-carrying ability of blood. Nitrate consumption is deadly at the fetal stage too.
- Other symptoms associated with high levels of nitrates in drinking water are increased heart rate, nausea, headaches, and abdominal cramps.
- They can also lead to thyroid cancer in adults.
- Nitrate levels of 5 ppm have been associated with bladder cancer in post-menopausal women.
Best Water Filter to Remove Nitrates
Many water filters can remove nitrates from your water. Here are two major types that can be tailored for efficient removal of nitrates:
Custom Reverse Osmosis System
A simple under-the-sink water filter can be equipped with a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system. This RO system can be customized to remove any contaminant that you wish, including nitrates and nitrites. These are sure to be more effective than other water filters in the market that are three times more expensive.
A simple carbon filter cannot remove nitrates. They need specific treatment, such as passing the water over a partially permeable membrane at high pressure. When the water moves from a region of lower concentration of nitrates to a region of a higher concentration, the nitrates are stopped by the membrane. Read more about reverse osmosis here.
Custom Whole House Water Filtration System
Whole House Water Filters are used to treat the water as it enters the house so that pure water is accessible from every tap. The best water filter works in numerous stages, including activated carbon filtration, distillation, and water softening steps such as Ion Exchange.
The Bottom Line
There is no single answer to the question “which is the best water filter to remove nitrates?” as it depends on your water source. First, test your water and find out the nitrate levels in it. Then find the best water filter that is specific to your needs.
We hope you found this blog post Which is the Best Water Filter to Remove Nitrates? useful. Be sure to check out our post Consider These 6 Things Before Purchasing A Water Softener for more great tips!
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