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Groundwater Supply Surpasses 'Public Health Limit' for Nitrates, L.A. Region Affected

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Millions drink it, but little know what it is or what it does to you. Now, thanks to a yearlong investigative project by California Watch that broke today, the word is getting out.

"More than two million Californians have been contaminated with nitrates at levels that surpass the public health limit, and that in small towns and rural settings, schools and families often don’t have access to groundwater treatment that would filter it out," states a Watch summary. "Many of the people most affected are in the Central Valley, Central Coast and Los Angeles/Imperial Valley regions, where a legacy of nitrate contamination has taken its toll on water basins."

But what is this chemical?

"Nitrates are now the most common groundwater contaminant in California and across the country. A byproduct of nitrogen-based farm fertilizer, animal manure, wastewater treatment plants and leaky septic tanks, nitrates leach into the ground and can be expensive to extract," explains Julia Scott in the opening report of the investigation.