The Environment Agency has decided to enact a set of comprehensive measures to regulate nitrate nitrogen, a chemical released into the environment from livestock excreta and agricultural fertilizers made of nitrogen, ministry officials said Friday.
Nitrate nitrogen, believed to disrupt blood circulation in babies, has been tied to health problems and infant mortality in Europe and the U.S.
According to the agency’s plan, nitrate nitrogen will be added to its list of legally regulated chemicals in public water. Steps will be carried out to decrease its concentration in public water in order to keep its negative influence on agriculture to a minimum level.
The substance cannot be removed from tap water by conventional purification procedures.
The plan includes a fact-finding study on groundwater contamination from fertilizers and livestock drainage, a program to reduce contamination, and a test of new cleaning technologies, the agency said.
Contamination by nitrate nitrogen has recently become a serious environmental problem. In a 1996 nationwide survey, about 5 percent of well water tested was tainted with concentrations of the chemical above the permitted 10 mg per liter standard the agency applies to tap water.
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