Nitrification is a microbial process by which reduced nitrogen compounds (primarily ammonia) are sequentially oxidized to nitrite and nitrate. Ammonia is present in drinking water through either naturally occurring processes or through ammonia addition during secondary disinfection to form chloramines. The nitrification process is primarily accomplished by two groups of autotrophic nitrifying bacteria that can build organic molecules using energy obtained from inorganic sources, in this case ammonia or nitrite.
Nitrogen is a major nutrient that is essential to plant growth and hence it is a principal component of fertilizers that are applied to gardens, lawns and crops. Spilling or excess application of fertilizers (inorganic or organic) can contribute to contamination of groundwater.
The nitrogen in inorganic fertilizer may already be in the form of nitrate, or the nitrate may be a product of the decomposition of organic fertilizer, plants or animal wastes. Nitrate can move easily through soils, and it can migrate below the root zone and into groundwater, especially after heavy rainfall or excessive irrigation. Large amounts of nitrate can also be produced in association with animal feedlots and sewer systems.
Table 1 summarizes the different water quality issues associated with nitrification
HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH NITRIFICATION
Various potential health risks have been associated with water quality issues summarized in Table 1 but the main health concern related to nitrate in groundwater is related to its conversion to nitrite (another inorganic form of nitrogen) in the digestive system. Nitrite interferes with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen, causing “blue baby syndrome” (methemoglobinemia). This is mainly a problem for infants, unborn children and the elderly, as well as nursing women who may pass nitrate to infants through breast milk. Baby formula mixed with high-nitrate water also exposes infants to nitrate. Infants, pregnant and nursing women, and elderly people are susceptible to high levels of nitrate in drinking water. Older children and adults with mature digestive systems do not tend to have this problem. Nitrate is also associated with increased risk of gastric or bladder cancer, birth defects, and thyroid problems, although the extent of the risk is currently unknown.
HOME WATER TREATMENT FOR NITRIFICATION
Nitrate can be removed from drinking water by distillation, reverse osmosis or ion exchange. Boiling, carbon adsorption filters and standard water softeners do not remove nitrate.
The Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station provides seven-stage filtration/treatment to ensure superior drinking water quality.
Stage 1 – Prefilter
The first filtration stage prepares the water for the reverse osmosis process. The five-micron filter captures sediment and small particulate matter, and reduces chlorine protecting the reverse osmosis membrane and enhancing its performance.
Stage 2 – Reverse Osmosis Membrane
After prefiltration, the water travels to the reverse osmosis membrane where the primary cleaning is performed. Here, water is forced through a semipermeable membrane under pressure, and most minerals, chemicals or objectionable matter such as Nitrates/Nitrites present in the water are flushed down the drain.
Stage 3 – Auxiliary Filter #1 and Stage 4 – Auxiliary Filter #2
Stage 3 and 4 provide the flexibility to meet the needs and demands of the customer by offering a variety of cartridges as listed below:
- Purefecta Bacteria/Virus Guard – is certified by the WQA to remove more than 99.99% of viruses and 99.99999% of bacteria. When used in conjunction with an air charge tank and prefilter the K5 Drinking Water Station equipped with Purfecta Virus/Bacteria Guard is considered a microbiological purifier.
- VOC Guard – removes volatile organic compounds.
- Arsenic Guard – by working with the RO membrane, the Arsenic Guard can remove both trivalent arsenic and pentavalent arsenic.
- Perchlorate Guard – removes perchlorate, a by-product from rocket and jet fuel, found in various locations around the world.
- Chloramine Guard – removes chloramine, a chemical used to disinfectant drinking water
- Mineral Plus – this exciting innovation adds beneficial minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, to drinking water. This cartridge will also enhance the taste of treated water.
Stage 5 – Storage Tank
After the water is processed through the first four stages, it is stored in a tank until needed. Unlike all other storage tanks available, the “water on water” tank with QuickFlo technology uses the home’s water pressure to deliver Kinetico Water from the storage tank to the drinking water faucet. Since the storage tank uses the home’s water pressure rather than a pressurized air charge, there will be a steady, consistent flow of water from the tap, even if the storage tank is almost empty.
Stage 6 – Postfilter Polisher
After leaving the storage tank, the water travels to the next stage of protection, the MACguard® Filter. Containing activated carbon, the MACguard Filter gives a final polish to the water, further reducing unpleasant tastes and odors.
Stage 7 – Faucet
The final protection stage is a custom, decorator, lead-free tap, which is mounted on your sink. With this tap, lead will not be added into the drinking water.
Table 2 provides system specifications for the K5 Drinking Water Station:
Nitrification can cause serious health risks especially to the immune-compromised population, pregnant women, and children. Therefore, to avoid the risk of being exposed to excess contamination, Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station should be installed that can reduce the nitrite/ nitrate levels to non-detect levels. Sani Water are one of the exclusive suppliers and consultants for Kinetico Water Filtration Products. The consultants at Sani Water can help their customers with suitable recommendations for nitrification issues. The technicians can also help with installation of the recommended filter products.
Saniwater is dedicated to offer best solutions to meet the drinking water requirements of their customers.
- Bradley, T. C., Haas, C. N., & Sales, C. M. (2020). Nitrification in Premise Plumbing: A Review. Water, 12(3), 830.