# Nitrogen question:nitrogen

Nitrogen or #nitrate contamination of drinking and surface water poses serious health risks, and can result from agricultural runoff in rivers. It is often associated with algal blooms as well. Also see the topic #phosphate. ## Nitrogen: Nitrates, Nitrite, Ammonia, &amp; Ammonium (moved from the [Common Water Contaminants page](/common-water-contaminants)) Nitrates, Nitrite, Ammonia, &amp; Ammonium are all "fixed" forms of nitrogen available to living organisms, and represent different stages of nitrogen in the [nitrogen cycle.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_cycle) Nitrogen is a major limiting nutrient in plant growth-- when nitrates occur in large quantities in water from fertilizers, manure, or sewage runoff, they can cause algal blooms that create dead zones. Nitrates have also been linked to increased risks of [cancer, and complications with a number of diseases, including asthma](http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1310926/). The EPA limits drinking water concentrations of Nitrates to 10mg/L or lower, however, health threats can occur even at those levels. Ammonia (NH3) and ammonium ion (NH4+) are related chemically by an acid / base reaction: NH3 + H+ &lt;=&gt; NH4+ The equilibrium between ammonia and ammonium is pH dependent, with the two species being at the same concentration only under fairly alkaline conditions, pH = 9.25. At neutral pH, the concentration of free NH3 is less than 1% that of NH4+. Since this is the case, the concentration of ammonia is usually not significant and can be determined from the concentration of ammonium and the pH. **** ## Questions Questions can be either frequently asked questions, or "next step" challenges we're looking to solve. [questions:nitrogen] ## Activities [activities:nitrogen] ...

Author Comment Last activity Moderation
jmh_desiderio "Good day, i would like to ask on how did you manage to measure the nutrient uptake of a plant. i am currently doing a thesis for the measurement of..." | Read more » almost 2 years ago
Ag8n " My mistake, it chemiluminesces in the red, not the blue. Sorry about that. " | Read more » almost 4 years ago
Ag8n " I've used ion chromatography(IC) to analyze for a number of ions, including nitrate and nitrite. The new instruments dedicated to IC are much bet..." | Read more » almost 4 years ago
Ag8n "Warren got most of the problems with kjeldahl. Here are a few more. Kjeldahl testing takes some specialty glassware. It's not terribly hard to l..." | Read more » about 4 years ago
falbriard " Here a software oriented approach. The following open source sample in Python language was developed for the blue & golden dress challenge, it..." | Read more » about 4 years ago
marmdavis "Other algal blooms can also release certain toxins into the water and the air causing a burning sensation in the lungs if inhaled. " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "This was fixed by @gauravano and is now live! " | Read more » over 4 years ago
cfastie "Stevie, The image code is still embedded in the version of my comment you promoted to an Answer. So I just copied the markdown into another comment..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
stevie "Thanks for the answer. One of the problems I think we'd run into in Louisiana is that the water is pretty muddy there (the Muddy Mississip!!). This..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
cfastie "The intense red tide blooms (Karenia brevis) in the Gulf of Mexico are easy to detect with normal color photography because they are red (top image..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
MaggPi "Not sure if all algae blooms have the same red color but it looks like the ones in Florida peak at 700nm. See: https://hyspiri.jpl.nasa.gov/downl..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
whiteice217 "There is a service I heard about on a TED talk at www.planet.com. Apparently they are using satellites to take daily pictures of the earth for comp..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Aleksi12358 "Lamotte produces hydroponic test kit but it is over 300\$ for 4 nutrients. Problem with test meant for soil is that they dont show results as ppm or..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Aleksi12358 "That is so good! I will order Public lab spectrometer or parts for it from somewhere and few photometer reagents so that I can do some tests so tha..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "Yes definitely the diy spectrometers on this site can have their range narrowly selected. See SpectralWorkbench.org for some examples! " | Read more » over 4 years ago
Aleksi12358 "So it is possible to use spectrometer as colorimeter. Is it possible to choose to read narrow band of spectrum with Public lab spectrometer softwa..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Aleksi12358 "Thank you for links. I will contact person who designed that automatic water tester and ask few question about accuracy of readings and use of diff..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Aleksi12358 "Thank you for suggestion. I will look into it. " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "Also Markos, from the spectrometry mailing list, chimed in with:grinning: Hi, I apologize for sending here a reply to the question proposed at: ..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Ag8n "The public lab instrument will cover a part of the NIR. Unless you can find very cheap used FTIR, the cost of the instrument will far exceed your ..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "And in case there are updates from others, let's see if @Frikkie or @winsorje have something to add? " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "Maybe @fez who asked this would be interested too: https://publiclab.org/questions/fez/02-01-2017/diy-methods-for-nitrate-detection-in-food " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "Hi, just for starters there are a couple interesting projects related to nitrate detection here: https://publiclab.org/tag/nitrate There's also t..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Ag8n "I have very little experience with soil testing. So the local extension agent was called. He suggested the lamotte NPK test kits. One that will ..." | Read more » over 4 years ago