Jan 07, 2008

High Nitrate Levels Found in Wash. Elementary School's Water

Testing showed a nitrate level of 10.36 ppm

Health officials in Washington state have detected unsafe levels of nitrate in the drinking water at Outlook Elementary School, near Sunnyside, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Regular quarterly testing in December showed a nitrate level of 10.36 parts per million (ppm), the paper reported. This is above the safe drinking water standard of 10 ppm. Nitrate is found in most fertilizers, manure and liquid waste from septic tanks. The area is home to many dairies and farms.

Private well owners in the area should consider having their water tested for nitrate, officials said.

Until officials come up with a long-term solution, like drilling a deeper well, they plan to have bottled water available for drinking, according to the newspaper.

Nitrate levels in the school’s drinking water have been rising since 1999, when the measurement was 5.8 ppm, according to the Department of Health's Office of Drinking Water, the newspaper reported.

Nitrate limits the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body's vital organs, according to the Department of Health.

While the red blood cells of children and adults exposed to nitrate can recover rapidly, the cells may not recover in infants, who can develop a serious health condition known as blue baby syndrome, in which the lack of oxygen causes the skin to turn a brownish-blue color.