Nitrate in tap water
Cancer: Ovarian, thyroid, kidney, bladder, and colorectal. Blue baby syndrome (methemoglobinemia), thyroid disease. Low birthweight, premature birth, and neural tube defects (NTDs). Harm to fetal growth and child development.
Nitrate can’t be seen, smelled, or tested. Therefore, it often spills into water supplies undetected. If nitrate isn’t removed, it can survive in groundwater and surface water for years
- Cancer: Ovarian, thyroid, kidney, bladder, and colorectal.
- Blue baby syndrome (methemoglobinemia).
- Thyroid disease.
- Low birthweight, premature birth, and neural tube defects (NTDs).
- Harm to fetal growth and child development.
Several studies have examined the link between nitrate in drinking water and the aforementioned health risks, but many have led to inconclusive results. That’s why this 2018 study re-examined the evidence to rank the health concerns most likely associated with drinking nitrate. The study found the most common adverse health outcomes from drinking nitrate are colorectal cancer, thyroid disease, blue baby syndrome, and neural tube defects.
Epidemiological research suggests the EPA’s 10 mg/L MCL does not sufficiently protect public health. In fact, EWG recommends an MCL of 0.14 mg/L to protect against cancer risk and adverse birth outcomes. That’s about 70 times lower than the amount of nitrate the EPA allows in public water supplies today.
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1. EWG Tap Water Database: Nitrate. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-nitrate.php. Accessed April 1, 2021.
2. EWG. Nitrate in U.S. Tap Water May Cause More Than 12,500 Cancers a Year. https://www.ewg.org/research/nitrate-us-tap-water-may-cause-more-12500-cancers-year. Accessed April 1, 2021.
3. PubMed. Drinking Water Nitrate and Human Health: An Updated Review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30041450/. Accessed April 1, 2021.
4. ScienceDirect. Exposure-based assessment and economic valuation of adverse birth outcomes and cancer risk due to nitrate in United States drinking water. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001393511930218X#. Accessed April 1, 2021.
5. Minnesota Department of Health. Nitrate in Drinking Water. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/contaminants/nitrate.html#Protect. Accessed April 1, 2021.
6. Newswise. University of Illinois Chicago: Nitrate in maternal drinking water may impair fetal growth. https://www.newswise.com/articles/nitrate-in-maternal-drinking-water-may-impair-fetal-growth. Accessed April 1, 2021.
7. EHP. Prenatal Exposure to Nitrate from Drinking Water and Markers of Fetal Growth Restriction: A Population-Based Study of Nearly One Million Danish-Born Children. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP7331. Accessed April 1, 2021.
8. CDC. Nitrate and Drinking Water from Private Wells. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/disease/nitrate.html. Accessed April 1, 2021.