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Ammonia in Water: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Monday, February 4, 2019

What's in your water? As a business, it's important to ensure the gases and water you use are clean, safe, and stable.

Ammonia in water is a growing health concern across the world. Organizations and institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission have recognized high ammonia concentrations in water as a threat.

What's worse is that ammonia can be hard to extract. The methods for it are difficult to execute without the right technology.

Fortunately, we've got your back.

In this article, we're going to give you five quick facts on ammonia and how to remove ammonia from water.

1. Ammonia in Water Is Common

Ammonia, NH3, is a man-made compound that's corrosive and highly soluble in water. Already, you can clearly see the recipe for disaster.

In acidic solutions, ammonia is found as the ammonium ion (NH4+), whereas in basic solutions it's ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH).

Ammonia is often commonly found as runoff from farms. It escapes as discharge from fertilizers, depositing into nearby water.

Reports have shown that ammonia concentration in water are usually around 30 mg-N per liter. It can also go higher than this, which is bound to violate WHO recommendations. Obviously, business owners must address this issue.

2. Ammonia Is a Health Concern

As a toxic compound, ammonia can interfere with many processes that may be essential to your company's operation. Consumption of high concentrations of ammonia can cause internal burning, blindness, or death. One should also be wary of skin exposure.

While rumors that ammonia is dangerous to inhale don't hold ground, it is still toxic to patients of kidney dialysis and fish.

On top of that, if you're using water or gas for their chemical properties, you might be unpleasantly surprised to find out that ammonia is switching things up.

3. Without a Filter, Ammonia in Water Is Tricky

There are a few ways to purify your water of ammonia:

  • Cation exchange with zeolite. This is a common method of expelling water waste. Don't try this at home.
  • Degasification/distillation. This can result in loss and is not appropriate in all cases.
  • Biological nitration. Bacteria convert the ammonia to nitrates.
  • Chloramine. Inorganic chloramines disinfect the water at levels that are safe to drink. Ideally, this is done with an automated monitor.

These methods all have their own niches and complications. For example, the chloramine method requires ensuring that excess chlorine does not create interference in your product. It is much better handled by an expert.

4. Bacteria Love Ammonia

It's not common you'll find ammonia in places with lots of bacteria, like water wells. This is because bacteria convert ammonia into nitrates useful for living organisms in a process called nitrification.

Unless you're planning on having a lot of bacteria in your plant operations, it's probably best to get a monitor.

5. Ammonia's Effect May Vary

It's hard to know exactly what ammonia will do to your water. As mentioned, the pH (acidity vs. alkalinity) of your water affects the kind of ammonia present.

Any factor that plays into nitrogen cycling can affect ammonia in water. This includes pollution, algal growth, organic material decay, and so on.

Playing it Safe

Ammonia in water can be frustrating or even devastating. Awareness of the issues is essential to maintaining a successful business.

But you can't do it alone. Get in contact with one of our experts to find out how our water monitoring systems can help you.

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