Nitrates are vital to plants but do we really want them in our drinking water?

The answer is obviously no, but as is the case with too many contaminants this chemical is finding its way into the water supply.

While local authorities do have measures in place to cut the levels of nitrates found in drinking water, this does not remove them completely.

Now, however, Doulton Water Filters have unveiled a new water treatment cartridge that can reduce residual nitrates from municipal water supplies.

The launch of this new cartridge is an exciting development in Doulton's mission to continue to improve the quality of drinking water to ensure families using a filter have access to the highest quality water on tap.

What are nitrates?

Nitrates are found in a number of different forms and can be naturally occurring. Nitrates are added to some foods, such as processed meat, and are also naturally occurring in some fruit and vegetables.

Nitrates are also vital for plant growth and are commonly used in fertilisers as well as being found organically in soil.

Nitrates used as fertiliser can find their way into the water supply through water run-off caused by excess rainwater, which can see the nitrates washed into rivers and other water sources.

Are nitrates in drinking water harmful?

Consuming excessive levels of nitrates can be harmful, particularly to very young children.

Nitrates only become a problem when they are transformed into nitrites by the body, which can affect the capability of blood cells to move oxygen. The resulting condition - methemoglobinemia - mainly affects babies.

The long-term effects of nitrates in drinking water are largely unknown, although consumption of excessive levels of nitrates that are not naturally occurring has been identified as a possible cause of cancer and of methemoglobinemia.

When converted to nitrites, nitrates can then become nitrosamines, which are known to be cancer-causing.

Targeting nitrates

In the UK, standard nitrate limits in drinking water are set at 50 mg per litre, in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation. Regular tests are carried out and should higher levels be detected water firms must take action.

However, Doulton believes we should all have access to the highest quality water in its purest form - as free from contaminants as possible.

In our commitment to providing the cleanest water possible, Doulton's newest cartridge can now reduce any nitrates left behind in the municipal water supply.

Used as part of a two-step filter system the new nitrate cartridge will combine with a carbon-containing ceramic candle to give tasty and clean drinking water that is the very best quality.

Don't leave your health to chance; take charge of what is in your drinking water. Use a Doulton water filter to ensure your family has the very best drinking water on tap.

Daniel Berko