Streamside Forests Remove Pollutants in Several Ways
Recent research has shown that streamside forests can: 1) improve the quality of water resources by removing or ameliorating the effects of pollutants in runoff and 2) increase the biological diversity and productivity of stream communities by improving habitat and adding to the organic food base. Streamside forests function, often simultaneously, as FILTERS, TRANSFORMERS, SINKS and SOURCES.
Excess Nitrogen in Drinking Water is Detrimental to Children and Livestock
Excess nitrogen, in surface and groundwater systems used for drinking water, is dangerous to the health of certain groups of people and animals. For example, infants less than six months old are particularly susceptible to harm because their stomachs are not acidic enough to prevent the growth of certain bacteria which convert nitrate to nitrite. High levels of nitrites can oxidize hemoglobin to form methanoglobin which is unable to carry oxygen. Brain damage or death by suffocation can result from this condition known as methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome.
Pregnant cows can also suffer from methemoglobinemia, which usually results in death of the newborn calf.
The allowable level of nitrogen in water for children six months of age or less is 10 ppm (10 mg/1) as nitrate nitrogen or 45 ppm (45 mg/1) as nitrate. Adults and older children can probably tolerate higher levels, but the standard is usually set at the more conservative level. Should groundwater become contaminated, nitrate removal at a community treatment plant is presently estimated to cost about $10 to $15/month for a family of three.
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