Ingesting too much nitrate can impair the transport of oxygen in the blood and cause methemoglobinemia in infants.

sources of exposure
Nitrates and nitrites are compounds that are formed naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Nitrogen is essential for life. At the same time, nitrates are the most important source of nitrogen for plants.

Vegetables and fruits contain an average of 80% of the nitrates that are good for humans. Especially if these products contain a lot of vitamin C. Because that helps prevent the conversion of nitrates into the more harmful ones. Sausage, bacon, and hot dogs are also a source of nitrates.

Nitrates can also be found in drinking water. In high concentrations, nitrates in drinking water can pose a health risk, especially for small children and pregnant women.

Elevated levels of nitrates in groundwater come from runoff from nitrogen fertilizers, sewage treatment plants, effluents from wastewater treatment, animal waste and industrial waste. The amount of nitrogen in the soil has doubled in the last 50 years.

Both municipal water and well water can become contaminated, especially if the facility is improperly constructed or if there is no sewage treatment plant. Well water can be more susceptible to contamination after flooding, especially if the wells have been submerged for a long time.

Possible health effects

Ingesting too much nitrate can be harmful to health:
- Oxygen transport in the blood of infants up to six months of age.
- nausea (upset stomach)
- diarrhea (diarrhoea)
- vomiting
- Feeling dizzy
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty breathing and possibly muscle paralysis
- Prenatal problems, birth defects and a wide range of health disorders

High levels of nitrates can pose a serious health risk to infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

While adults absorb more nitrates from food, infants are more at risk from drinking water; they take in most of their food in liquid form. Of concern is the exposure of bottle-fed infants whose formula is prepared with drinking water containing nitrate. Nitrates can affect the blood's ability to carry oxygen.

Pregnant women may not tolerate nitrates well. Also, nitrates ingested by nursing mothers can directly affect infants. Therefore, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid water with a nitrate content of more than 10 ppm.

Short-term exposure to elevated levels of nitrates can cause nausea (indigestion), diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and/or muscle paralysis.

The long-term effects on health have not yet been fully researched. Initial studies suggest that it can lead to prenatal problems, birth defects, and other health disorders.