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Drinking Water Fact Sheet: Nitrate

The term nitrate refers to a large family of nitrogen-containing organic and inorganic compounds. Each year, 12 million tons of nitrogen are applied as commercial fertilizers, and some 150,000 tons of nitrate compounds are released into the environment by industrial facilities. Smaller quantities are used in heat transfer salts, glass and ceramics, fireworks, explosives and blasting agents. 

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