Blue Heron Water Treatment offers a comprehensive solution for Nitrate in your water. For whole house treatment, or for small communities with nitrate in groundwater, Blue Heron Water offers custom systems for specific applications.
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Nitrate Removal Technologies
Nitrate removal technologies include: ion-exchange, reverse-osmosis, distillation, biodenitrification, and eletrodialysis. The most commonly used treatment approach is by ion-exchange, the same technology water softeners employ. With this type of system, chlorides are exchanged for the nitrate, and the high nitrate waste is flushed into a holding tank or drain field. Similar to a water softener, salt is added to a salt tank, and the nitrate resin is regenerated automatically with salt water.
Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is formed in the soil when nitrogen and oxygen combine. Small amounts of nitrate are normal but large amounts can pollute groundwater and cause severe consequences to life.
Sources of nitrate in the soil are chemical fertilizers, septic system discharge and livestock waste. A portion of chemical fertilizer will convert to nitrate in the soil. Ammonia is present in the waste of both humans and animals. It enters the soil from inadequate or poorly managed septic systems. Plants can only absorb so much nitrate from the soil and the excess is then carried down through the soil into the groundwater by the action of rain, snowmelt and irrigation.
The consumption of small amounts of nitrate is not harmful; nitrate is actually a part of a normal diet. Health problems can occur however with ingestion of excessive nitrate. When nitrates enter the body, stomach bacteria converts nitrate to nitrite. Adults have low pH (high acidity) stomach acid that destroys this nitrite producing bacteria.
Infants however (especially those less than three months in age) do not have developed digestive systems that can destroy the stomach bacteria, so infants can develop excess amounts of nitrite in their bodies and develop methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobin is a converted form of hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells and normally carries oxygen in the body’s bloodstream. In methemoglobin form, these cells are unable to transport oxygen and these infants now become oxygen starved. Because oxygen starvation results in a bluish discoloration of the body, methemoglobinemia has been referred to as “blue baby syndrome”. Once an infant’s system is fully developed (normally three to six months), methemoglobinemia is rarely a problem. Methemoglobinemia, if recognized by a physician, is relatively easy to treat and babies can make a full recovery.