• info@aquaafrica.org

Greece: High nitrate levels found in water

Nitrate pollution has penetrated the drinking water that is channeled in some of the largest Greek cities, creating new concerns about their possible effects on public health.

As Realnews reveals, the new measurements show that in several urban centers of the country the tap water contains nitrate levels that far exceed the informal limit of 10 mg / l. Officially, in the European Union, but also in Greece, the safe limit provided by the relevant legislation on the content of nitrates in drinking water is 50 mg / l. However, in several EU Member States, legislation or reports from Health Ministries include a 10 mg / l limit as a recommendation for safe consumption, especially if the water is consumed by pregnant women, infants, and toddlers or if it is intended for the preparation of baby meals.

The reason for the concern arising from nitrates and their frequent absorption by the human body through drinking water has been fully captured in research by the international scientific community.

At the same time, the effects of nitrates on human health have been reflected in official EU reports. Due mainly to the excessive use of fertilizers, nitrates are controlled for carcinogenesis, while they have been shown to cause hematological problems, capable of causing even death in infants. “Excess nitrate in drinking water can have health effects, in particular causing methemoglobinaemia, which impedes the normal transport of oxygen from the blood to the tissues, causing cyanosis and, at higher concentrations, suffocation that can be fatal to infants “, is typically mentioned in a report of the European Commission on nitrates, published in May 2018.

In addition, the negative effects have been noted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“Nitrates enter the food chain as water contaminants, due to excessive agricultural practices.
In humans, nitrates are absorbed directly by the body. They can oxidize natural hemoglobin, reducing the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. “They may also contribute to the formation of so-called nitrosamines, some of which are carcinogenic,” EFSA officials told R.


The “R”, in a report published last March, has already highlighted the problem that exists in several – mainly suburban areas of the country.
Concern has been shown for the quality of drinking water in urban centers of the country calling for new measurements.
Scientists call for stricter limits to protect infants and children who are more vulnerable Significant measurements of the Association of Municipal Water Supply and Sewerage Companies (EDEYA), but also the local DEYA, have been recorded even exceeding the limit of 50 mg / l.

These are measurements that are posted on the internet.

They concern samples taken in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021, with the results of the analyzes being, unfortunately, disappointing. For example, in a measurement made in the Midea area of ​​Nafplio, the amount found was 137 mg / l, almost three times the allowed level. Exceedances of legal limits were still found in Ermioni and Koutsopodi Argos, while nitrates above the informal limit of 10 mg / l are found in several areas such as Aigio, Filippi Kavala, Kato Fortetsa Heraklion Crete, Agios Nikolaos Levchos Kilkis, and Afanos Lamias.

The new measurements that are published today emerged after the cooperation of “R” with an accredited private laboratory, were carried out between March and May 2021, and concern the tap water from households located in central parts of Greek cities. According to them, exceeding the informal limit of 10mg / l was recorded in one measurement in Patras (14 mg / l), in three measurements in Larissa (15, 18, and 18 mg / l), and in another measurement in Katerini (23 mg / l). At the same time, nitrate content close to the informal limit of 10 mg / l was recorded in Volos (9.7 mg / l), Serres (8.5 mg / l), and Giannitsa (8.9 mg / l).

The network of Thessaloniki

Penetration of nitrates in the drinking water network, however, is also observed in Thessaloniki. In two measurements made in houses located in very central parts of the city, nitrates were detected at levels of 9 mg / l and 7 mg / l. The measurements posted on the internet by EDEVA show that the burden is higher in suburban areas of Thessaloniki, such as Asvestochori in the municipality of Pylaia-Chortiatis (29.1 mg / l) and the municipality of Thermi (19.94 mg / l).

It is worth noting that measurements were made in homes in various areas of Attica, where “undetectable” nitrate levels were detected, except in one case. This is the area of ​​Ekali, where water flows purely from the EYDAP network. In Ekali, the sample, which was also taken from a household tap, showed a content of 37 mg of nitrates per liter of drinking water.

Strict specifications

The determination of the danger posed to the human body by the different levels of nitrates in drinking water is the subject of investigation by scientists around the world. At the European level, in addition to the 50 mg / l limit contained in the relevant European directive, there are a total of 7 Member States (France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, Croatia) which advise consumers to avoid consuming water with nitrates above 10 mg / l.

The reason for the recommendation is none other than the issues that seem to arise in terms of children’s health, even from lower levels of nitrates, as the body of young people has not yet developed the appropriate defenses to deal with these harmful elements.

Thus, several scientists report that there is a need for stricter standards, possibly for new limits on safe nitrate content when water is consumed by pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. “Great care should be taken, especially in infants who drink milk made from infant formula and water. “If nitrates are present in the water in large quantities, then they can damage the child’s thyroid or cause other problems in the lungs,” said Dimitris Loutradis, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

“The maximum permissible levels for various parameters are determined taking into account either the maximum permissible daily intake for toxic compounds or the average daily lifetime dose for carcinogens.

“For the extraction of the limits, the possible effects on sensitive population groups, such as children, have been taken into account”, explains the professor of Hygiene andDirector of the Hygiene Laboratory of the Medical Department of the University of Patras, Michalis Leotsinidis.

“As for water, the assumption is that the average consumption per person is 2 liters per day for adults and 1 liter for children.
In addition, it is estimated that 20% of the maximum intake will be obtained through water and thus the maximum permissible concentration is determined. “With the existing scientific data, the existing limits are considered safe, without this meaning that they are not subject to revision if new data emerge”, says M. Leotsinidis on the issue of the revision of security levels, making special reference to the issue of baby food preparation, even with bottled water.

The issue that may need to be investigated is for those cases where in some table or natural mineral waters the producer company wishes to indicate “suitable for the preparation of baby food” or something similar. In this case, the assumption that 20% of the maximum allowable intake will be obtained through water is differentiated and can reach 50% or even 80%. In this case, the limits must be reduced, not only for nitrates, but also for several of the other parameters, e.g. copper, nickel, etc.

The issue is being investigated by scientific committees in various countries “, concludes the professor of Hygiene at the University of Patras.
The issue of reviewing some of the safety limits for nitrate content in drinking water is a major topic of discussion among legal entities in several US states, where the risk to the health of infants from the preparation of baby food from water has high levels of nitrates.


Exceeding the informal limit of 10 mg / l was recorded in a measurement in a house located in the center of Patras (14 mg / l)


In all three samples taken from houses in the center of Larissa, there were found increased levels of nitrates (15, 18 and 18 mg / l)

The reason for the concern arising from nitrates and their frequent absorption by the human body through drinking water has been fully captured in research by the international scientific community.



Source: Realnews www.real.gr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *