Formation of nitrates is an integral part of the nitrogen cycle in our environment. Nitrates and nitrites occur normally in nature from the breakdown of ammonia in the nitrogen life cycle. Nitrates in nature cause plant and algae growth that may affect the balance of water based ecosystems. It is found in fertilizers and animal waste. Groundwater used as drinking water that contains Nitrate represent a hazard to babies. In moderate amounts, nitrate is a harmless constituent of food and water. However when used in high quantity, it may cause “Methemoglobinemia” or blue baby syndrome (in babies), a condition found especially in infants under the age of 6 months. Many die every year as a result from “Blue Baby Syndrome”.
Development Alternatives has developed a fast, easy to operate, robust and reliable way to check presence of nitrate in water. Jal-TARA Nitracheck uses two simple reagents and a simple method to indicate presence of nitrate a water sample of 5 ml, through a colour comparison chart. The process takes a little above 10 minutes, mixing of reagents takes less than 30 seconds while the colour appears in 15 minutes. Ease of use and less time requirement were the primary factors kept in mind while developing the kit. With an aim that anyone can use this kit in the field to determine the presence of nitrate in drinking water, the kit is robust, not susceptible to damage and the reagents are stable for longer period of time. The kit gives an indicative result based on colour which can be matched to the 3 colour chart given along with the kit that represent 3 different concentrations of nitrate in water, (i) BIS prescribed desirable limit of 10 mg/L (ii) permissible limit of 45 mg/L and (iii) unacceptable limit of 100 mg/L.
· Robust, fast and easy to operate, can be used in field and on-site
· Can be used by anyone after reading user manual
· No maintenance required, one kit performs up to 100 tests
· Long shelf life of over 1 year
The technology has been fully developed and is being commercially sold by TARAlife Sustainability Services Pvt Ltd., New Delhi under a licensed agreement to manufacture, sell and service the same. Knowledge products including user manual and brochures are available on use of Jal-TARA Nitracheck a semi qualitative kit to test the level of Nitrate in the drinking water. Customized training packages are available for health centres, foundations, water quality monitoring labs and NGOs.