Nitrate Pollution: A Menace to Human, Soil, Water and Plant

Nitrate Pollution: A Menace to Human, Soil, Water and Plant


Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: Environmental Sciences
  • Publisher's keywords: Groundwater pollution, Human health, Methemoglobinemia, Nitrate nitrogen
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Subhash Chand, Malik Ashif, Zargar M.Y., Bhat M. Ayub



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Health of human, soil, water and plant are integral part of a sustainable ecosystem. Nitrogen is a major constituent of the earth's atmosphere and occurs in different gaseous forms such as elemental nitrogen, nitrate and ammonia. Natural reactions of atmospheric nitrogen with rainwater result in the formation of nitrate and ammonium ions. While nitrate is a common nitrogenous compound due to natural processes of the nitrogen cycle and nowadays anthropogenic sources have greatly increased the nitrate concentration, particularly in groundwater. The largest anthropogenic sources are septic tanks, application of nitrogen-rich fertilizers to turfgrass and agricultural processes. Levels of nitrates in groundwater in some instances are above the safe levels proposed by the EPA and thus pose a threat to human health. Particularly in rural, private wells, incidence of methemoglobinemia appears to be the result of high nitrate levels. Methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome robs the blood cells of their ability to carry oxygen. Due to the detrimental biological effects, treatment and prevention methods must be considered to protect groundwater aquifers from nitrate leaching and high concentrations. Treatment through ion-exchange and other processes can rehabilitate already contaminated water, while prevention, such as reduced dependence on nitrogen-rich fertilizers can lower the influx of nitrates.

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