What are Nitrates and how does it get into water? Nitrate is a tasteless, colorless and odorless compound that you cannot detect unless your water is chemically analyzed. Users of private water supplies should have their water tested annually for Nitrate, especially in areas where fertilizers are commonly used. It is estimated that 1.5 million people are potentially exposed to nitrates from rural domestic wells. Nitrates in well water can come from fertilizer runoff, leaching from septic tanks, and even erosion of naturally occurring deposits. The 1990 EPA National Survey of Drinking Water Wells found that approximately 57 percent of the private wells tested contained detectable levels of nitrates.

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Why are Nitrates a concern? Nitrates ingested into the body are converted to nitrites, which can prevent blood from carrying oxygen properly. This can lead to a bluish/grey tint to the skin (due to a lack of oxygen), shortness of breath, increased sensitivity to illness, heart attacks, and potentially death by asphyxiation. This is most common and most dangerous in infants under 6 months of age (“blue baby syndrome” or infant methemoglobinemia). The stomach acid of an infant is not as strong as in older children and adults. This causes an increase in bacteria that can readily convert nitrate to nitrite (NO2). In addition to the health risks to young infants, there is concern that nitrates in drinking water may also increase the risk of certain types of cancers, including bladder cancer.

Boiling nitrate-contaminated water does not make it safe to drink and actually increases the concentration of nitrates.When testing water for nitrates, RAdata looks for the number of ppb, or parts per billion of nitrates in the water. The NJDEP has established a maximum contaminant level of 10,000 ppb for nitrates in water.

How does RAdata reduce Nitrates in water?

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Reverse Osmosis (commonly referred to as RO) is the second most common form of nitrate treatment and is typically used where cost is a major concern. An advantage of RO is its simplicity which is of special importance for small scale applications. Reverse Osmosis systems are Point of Use systems, meaning that the water is treated at a single point, usually the kitchen sink (instead of Point of Entry treatment, which would treat all of the water supplied to the home). The Reverse Osmosis system provides treated water to its own separate tap. The Reverse Osmosis system slowly makes treated water throughout the day and the treated water is stored in a small holding tank underneath the sink for on demand use. When the holding tank is full, the automatic shut–off device is triggered and signals the system to automatically cease production until more water is needed.

Nitrate removal by Reverse Osmosis uses a semi-permeable membrane to selectively remove various inorganics within the water. Pressure is applied to the water to force it through the membrane. As the water passes through the membrane it leaves the impurities behind. Estimates predict that from 85 to 95 percent of nitrates can be removed with reverse osmosis. Actual removal rates may vary, depending on the initial quality of the water, the system pressure, and water temperature.

RAdata installs the Microline Reverse Osmosis system.

Do I Have Nitrates in My Water?  If you suspect a problem and your drinking water comes from a private well, you should have the well tested.  If Nitrates or any other contaminant is found RAdata can install Water Treatment systems to treat any water problem.


Test My Water for Nitrates (and other contaminants)!

RAdata provides a full water testing service, to learn about our Water Testing Service or get started immediately by Ordering Well Water Testing for your home.

Nitrates in your water: How to treat it and what you need to know.
The Good News: RAdata has the knowledge and experience to safely reduce Nitrates in your drinking water!

You can also use this Free Estimate form to have RAdata create a free, no obligation estimate for Water Treatment Services.

Treatment: Anion Exchange Water Softener (Countercurrent Regenerating)

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A specialized type of Anion exchange water softener is used to remove nitrates. A water softener uses the principle of ion-exchange – in this case, anions – to remove nitrates from raw water. The equipment contains a "bed" of softening material known as 'resin' through which the untreated water flows. Although the anion softener looks the same on the outside, this unit is very different from a standard water softener. As water passes through the resin, the nitrates in the water attach themselves to this material. This ion-exchange process occurs literally billions of times during the softening process. Weekly automatic regeneration, or recharging, is necessary. The unit is set to automatically perform this regeneration as needed, based on water usage. To recharge the resin, it must be rinsed with a rich brine solution (Sodium Chloride – salt). This washes the nitrates out of the resin and replaces them with chloride, so the resin is once again ready to exchange ions to remove more nitrates. During the recharging cycle, the unit is also backwashed. Reversing the normal flow of water also serves to remove any turbidity and sediment, which may have accumulated during the softening process due to the filtering action of the ion exchange material. Backwashing also loosens and fluffs up the bed of resin. Countercurrent regenerating water softeners add the salt against the service flow, and use significantly less salt than traditional water softeners. Our softeners are controlled using Clack® WS-1 control heads, which offer the option of either metered “demand initiated regeneration” or the more traditional “timed” regeneration.

If you have questions on how to treat Nitrates
in your well water,
call us today 800-447-2366 and ask to speak to a specialist.


Nitrates in Drinking Water, NJDEP

EPA Basic Information about Nitrate in Drinking Water

Municipal drinking water nitrate level and cancer risk in older women: the Iowa Women's Health Study

Prenatal Nitrate Intake from Drinking Water and Selected Birth Defects in Offspring of Participants in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study

Nitrate Intake and the Risk of Thyroid Cancer and Thyroid Disease

Health Risks of Nitrates in Drinking Water

Cornell University Cooperative Extension: Nitrate Health Effects in Drinking Water