People, Environment

Nitrate in Drinking Water Raises Concerns Again

Nitrate in Drinking Water Raises Concerns AgainNitrate in Drinking Water Raises Concerns Again

The arrival of the warm season and the subsequent rise in water consumption have once again aroused public concerns about the rising level of nitrate in drinking water, especially in the Iranian capital.

Tehran City Council has frequently expressed worry and warned against the presence of the contaminant in the city’s water supply. The Health Ministry, however, claims that the situation is under control.

Speaking to ISNA, Gholamreza Shaqaqi, director of Water and Wastewater Sanitation Office at the Health Ministry, said nitrate concentration in Tehran’s water supply has rarely reached dangerous levels, adding that the Energy Ministry’s measures have helped significantly alleviate the conditions.

Concentration of nitrate differs from area to area, but the Energy Ministry, which is the foremost authority on water affairs, has taken steps to ensure the levels remain low.

“In areas where nitrate levels were high, the ministry began supplying water to the region from Mamlo Dam (on Jajroud River in southeastern Tehran), which is safe and sanitary,” said the official, emphasizing that the low level of nitrate poses no risks to adults.

Shaqaqi said unrestrained and unauthorized construction in Tehran, which tend to encroach on areas where they impact water quality, is to blame for the high levels of nitrate in the city’s drinking water.

He also blamed unsanitary disposal of wastewater as another factor contributing to the problem in southern Tehran.

Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. It is regulated in drinking water primarily because excess levels can cause methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” disease.

Although nitrate levels that affect infants do not pose a direct threat to older children and adults, they do indicate the possible presence of other more serious residential or agricultural contaminants, such as bacteria or pesticides.

World Health Organization’s Guideline Value for nitrate in drinking water is 50 milligrams per liter. When nitrate levels in drinking water exceed that limit, drinking water becomes a major source of total nitrate intake, especially for bottle-fed infants.