Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 2026–2037 | Cite as

Nitrate in drinking water and vegetables: intake and risk assessment in rural and urban areas of Nagpur and Bhandara districts of India

  • Pinky Taneja
  • Pawan LabhasetwarEmail author
  • Pranav Nagarnaik
Groundwater under threat from diffuse contaminants: improving on-site sanitation, agriculture and water supply practices


The study focuses on the estimation of health risk from nitrate present in the drinking water and vegetables in Nagpur and Bhandara districts in the state of Maharashtra, India. Drinking water samples from 77 locations from the rural as well as urban areas and 22 varieties of vegetable were collected and analyzed for the presence of nitrate for a period of 1 year (two seasons). The daily intake of nitrate from these water and vegetable samples was then computed and compared with standard acceptable intake levels to assess the associated health risk. The mean nitrate concentration of 59 drinking water samples exceeded the Bureau of Indian Standards limit of 45 mg/L in drinking water. The rural and urban areas were found to have mean nitrate concentration in drinking water as 45.69 ± 2.08 and 22.53 ± 1.97 mg/L, respectively. The estimated daily intake of drinking water samples from 55 study sites had nitrate concentration far below the safety margin indicating serious health risk. The sanitation survey conducted in 12 households reported contaminated source with positive E. coli count in 20 samples as the major factor of health risk. The average nitrate concentration was maximum in beetroot (1349.38 mg/kg) followed by spinach (1288.75 mg/kg) and amaranthus (1007.64 mg/kg). Among the samples, four varieties of the vegetables exceeded the acceptable daily intake (ADI) with an assumption of 0.5 kg consumption of vegetables for an average of a 60-kg individual. Therefore, irrigation of these locally grown vegetables should be monitored periodically for nitrogen accumulation by the crop above the ADI limit. The application of nitrogenous fertilizers should also be minimized in the rural areas to help protect the nitrate contamination in groundwater sources.


Nitrate Sanitary survey Agricultural fertilizers Drinking water Estimated daily intake Health risk assessment Vegetables 



The authors would like to acknowledge the efforts by the knowledge resource center of CSIR-NEERI for authenticating the manuscript by checking plagiarism through iThenticate software and providing the manuscript no. CSIR-NEERI/KRC/2017/JAN/WTMD/2.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_9195_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pinky Taneja
    • 1
  • Pawan Labhasetwar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pranav Nagarnaik
    • 1
  1. 1.Water Technology & Management DivisionCSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI)NagpurIndia

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