What adverse health effects are associated with nitrates in drinking water?
EPA based the MCLG for nitrate on the toxicity of nitrate in humans due to the reduction of nitrate to nitrite in the human body. By reacting with hemoglobin, nitrite forms methemoglobin, which will not transport oxygen to the tissues and thus can lead to asphyxia (i.e. blue babies), which, if sufficiently severe, can lead to death (56 FR 3526, 3538; January 30, 1991).
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