USDA Agricultural Research Service --Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Environmental Quality (2004) 33: 3: 1159-1159. DOI:10.2134/jeq2004.1159


The concluding paragraph of the book notes that “The history of nitrate is that of a world-scale scientific error that has lasted for more than 50 years. The time has now come to rectify this regrettable and costly misunderstanding.” The senior author of this book was a pediatrician who devoted a portion of his life to the study of methaemoglobinaemia in infants and the relationship to nitrate concentrations in water supplies. This book is not a biased casual overview of the nitrate problems and the levels in drinking water but an extremely thorough and thought-provoking analysis of our current understanding of the role of nitrate and nitrite in our drinking water and diet. There are more than 620 references cited in this book from all of the studies conducted around the world on nitrates and human health. The authors are to be commended for their thoroughness in this analysis. The contents of this book are divided into eight chapters: “The History of Nitrates in Medicine,” “Nitrate, the Nitrogen Cycle and the Fertility of Nature,” “The Metabolism of Nitrate,” “Nitrate in Body Fluids,” “The Case Against Nitrate: A Critical Examination,” “Nitrate Regulations: Presentation and Discussion,” “The Beneficial Effects of Nitrate,” and “Summary and Conclusions.”