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The Importance of Continuous Water Quality Monitoring of Ammonia in Plant Operations
Monday, April 12, 2021

Ammonia can be used to both, clean your premises, as well as create a toxic environment for your employees or products. This, of course, depends largely on how you use it, the quantities in which it exists, and your exposure to ammonia.

This article takes a look at dissolved ammonia. Let's get started!

What Is Ammonia?

When hydrogen and nitrogen combine, they create a new chemical compound called ammonia. This substance is colorless but does have a strong and distinct smell. Given its soluble nature, it is common to find it present in various water bodies, including the water you have in your premises or at home.

It exists in two forms. One is an un-ionized and uncharged form, and the other is a positively charged, ion. The former is toxic to humans, and other aquatic life, in varying degrees.

What Causes High Levels of Dissolved Ammonia in Water?

There are various sources of dissolved ammonia, but some of the most common include agricultural fertilizers, industrial waste, and organic decomposition in water. Generally, water contains around 0.2 milligrams of ammonia per liter. Humans, in general, are said to consume around 18 milligrams of ammonia every day without experiencing any negative effects.

Toxic to Aquatic Life

Large quantities of ammonia in water can have hazardous consequences to aquatic life. Aquatic creatures are unable to release or excrete such large quantities of ammonia which ultimately leads up to build-up within the system.

This compromises the efficiency of their organs, gets in the way of proper circulation, and can ultimately cause death. Additionally, other factors like the pH levels of the water can exacerbate the consequences of high ammonia levels.

Compromising the Quality of Water

While it takes a larger quantity of dissolved ammonia to impact humans, it does happen. Smaller quantities can affect the quality of water, giving it an unpleasant taste or odor. Some people describe this taste as moldy or earthy.

Larger quantities, on the other hand, can lead to ammonia poisoning. Coughing, wheezing, ear pain, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and fever are a few common symptoms to watch out for. Prolonged consumption of ammonia can eventually cause organ damage and disrupt the functions of various systems in the human body.

Additionally, high levels of ammonia can also trigger bacterial growth. These bacteria thrive with the elevated content of ammonia, forming larger colonies, and making their way to your water filter system.

Dissolved Ammonia Monitor

Continuous water quality monitoring of ammonia is becoming increasingly important for plant operations and process control. Unfortunately, on-line ammonia monitors are generally very expensive, complex, and labor intensive instruments. Most are automated versions of ammonia selective ion electrodes methods better suited to laboratory measurements. Others are automated colorimetric devices or instrumental methods that are difficult to justify on a cost basis.
ATI has developed a completely new approach to on-line monitoring of ammonia that is far less expensive and much simpler than conventional monitoring equipment. The Q46N Dissolved Ammonia Monitor uses reaction chemistry that converts ammonia in solution to a stable monochloramine compound equivalent in concentration to the original ammonia level. The chloramine concentration is then measured with a unique amperometric sensor that responds linearly to chloramines while eliminating interference from excess free chlorine in solution.
Have a look at our Dissolved Ammonia Monitor.
Our goal at ATI is to help provide our customers with the knowledge needed to ensure a safe and healthy environment. Toward this goal, we strive to develop and produce the highest quality instruments available. Our commitment to continuous improvement of analytical sensing systems is the key to our steadily expanding monitoring capability, and provides our users with the power of reliable information.

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