Nitrates (NO3-) and nitrites (NO2-) are formed from the decomposition of plants and animals and animal waste and nitrates are necessary for plant growth. Very high concentrations of these compounds in drinking water can cause illness, but they are mainly used to determine water contamination sources. Since nitrates and nitrites form from animal waste, high levels can indicate sewage contamination. Since plants need nitrates to grow and farmers will often add fertilizer containing nitrates, high levels can indicate farmland runoff contamination.
According to the U.S. EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations drinking water should contain no greater than 10mg/L nitrates and 1mg/L nitrites. But, this test is often used as an indicator for water contamination sources more than anything else.
Nitrate/Nitrite Test Strip
Where to Buy Materials:
- Omega Engineering – sells a bottle of 50 test strips (Nitrate/Nitrite as Nitrogen, bottle of 50) for $16. www.omega.com – search “test strips” click “WTS Series: Water Quality Test Strips”
1. Swirl the test strip in some sample water for a few seconds and compare the color to the color chart on the bottle.