Nitrate isotopes in groundwater systems

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Nitrate contamination, often associated with agricultural activities, is a major problem in some shallow aquifers and is increasingly becoming a threat to groundwater supplies (Gillham and Cherry, 1978; Ronen et al., 1983; Spalding and Exner, 1991). The intake of high levels of nitrate can cause methemoglobinemia in infants, and there is substantial evidence collected from animal experiments that N-nitroso compounds are carcinogens. Similar conclusive evidence is not yet available for humans but many observations suggest that these compounds can function as initiators of human carcinogenesis. These findings are the basis for the maximum permissible limit of 10 ppm nitrate-N (50 ppm as NO3) in drinking water set by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The impact of high loading of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphorous from agricultural practices via groundwater into surface water is also a major environmental concern, causing eutrophication of streams, rivers and lakes (Hill, 1978; Böhlke and Denver, 1995).

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Nitrate isotopes in groundwater systems
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4615-4557-6_9
Year Published 2000
Language English
Publisher Springer
Publisher location Boston, MA
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 37 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Environmental tracers in subsurface hydrology
First page 261
Last page 297
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