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Nutrient Source Tracking – Nitrate and Phosphate

A nutrient is a substance that a living organism requires to live, grow and reproduce. However, in excess, they can become dangerous to human and ecosystem health. Such is the case with Nitrogen in the form of Nitrate (NO3) and Phosphorus in the form of Phosphate (PO43-).

Why is an excess of nutrients a concern?

High concentrations of nutrients in the water table can cause drinking water to become toxic. High levels of nutrients in surface waters will cause overstimulation of algal growth, such as blooms. These blooms block sunlight and create anoxic zones (very low concentrations of dissolved oxygen) which create an uninhabitable environment for marine life, often referred to as eutrophication.

Eutrophication can have large negative impacts on marine and fishery industries.

What is the difference between Nonpoint Source and Point Source?

Nonpoint source refers broadly to sources of contamination from many diffuse sources such as suburban developments, cities and fertilizers. Nonpoint source is usually driven by runoff events such as snow melts and rain.

Point source refers to a discrete, traceable source of pollution that is not driven by runoff.

Being able to identify sources of pollution is the first step in remediation.

US EPA Fact Sheet – Preventing Eutrophication: Scientific Support for Dual Nutrient Criteria
US EPA – Basic Information about Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution

Beta Analytic performs fast, ISO 17025-accredited oxygen and nitrogen isotope measurements using an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS).

Learn more about our Nitrate Service (Nutrient Source Tracking)

Beta Analytic Ad - Nitrate in Water