The Anion Analysis: Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Bromide, Phosphate and Sulfate
Fluoride is often added to municipal water to prevent tooth decay. It is also found in
ground water in many parts of the country. Concentrations of more than about 2 ppm
can cause staining of tooth enamel.
Nitrate and Nitrite
These oxidized forms of nitrogen are the most important chemical contaminants in
water supplies. Long-term consumption of water with elevated nitrates can cause
health problems, and can cause “blue baby syndrome” if consumed by young chil-
dren. All of our packages include measurements of nitrate and nitrite concentrations.
Nitrates can come from runoff or leaching of excess fertilizer or air pollution. But
dangerous concentrations can also be formed by natural geological processes, espe-
cially in dry climates. Almost all waters contain some amount of nitrate, and it is impor-
tant to know if it is close to the danger level.
This oxidized form of sulfur is found in seawater and many kinds of minerals. High
concentrations can cause temporary diarrhea, and also allow the growth of sulfate-
reducing bacteria, leading to increased corrosion and unpleasant odors. Our com-
plete packages include measurement of sulfate concentration.
Chloride and Bromide
These ionized elements are found in many minerals and of course, in seawater.
High concentrations can cause salty tastes. Our complete packages include measure-
ment of chloride and bromide concentrations
This oxidized form of phosphorus is found in some minerals and in fertilizers and
detergents. If found in water supplies, it can sometimes indicate contamination with
sewage or fertilizers. It is sometimes added to water to control excess iron and manga-
nese. Our complete packages include measurement of phosphate concentration.
What to do about it?
Conventional filtration and water soft-
eners will not remove anions from
water. If you have a problem with
excess anions, a reverse-osmosis sys-
tem (for high TDS water) and/or an
anion exchange cartridge (for low
TDS water) may be needed.