Problem of Nitrates and Nitrites in Water.

At last class, I presented about Water Problem in Iowa for my project 5, Kinetic Water Sculpture. I’ve got some feed backs from both instructors and class mates, thus I, now, have been focusing on the problem of Nitrates and Nitrites in Water.

According to my research, Nitrates are needed and helpful for plants to grow, and also for meat to increase color of meat and to store more as preservatives. So, People uses lots of the nitrogen-containing fertilizers on golf courses, lawns and farm communities. Thus, huge Nitrates could move to surface water and ground water by rain. However, Nitrate is changed to nitrite by microorganisms in the soil, water and sewage. Nitrates are needed for farming, but Nitrites are not needed for human, because it cause the hemoglobin in the blood to change to methemoglobin. That means, amount of oxygen in the blood would be reduced.
“This results in cells throughout the body being deprived of sufficient oxygen to function properly.” (Environmental Health Investigations Branch 1). This condition is known as methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome. Especially, infants, under six months age, are the most dangerous from this problem, because they are more sensitive than adults, and also take in more percentages of water for their weight than adults do. When the percentage of methemoglobin in the blood is 10-20%, cyanosis (turning blue) is started. If the percentage would be over 70%, then people would get high risk of mortality.

As you see above, Nitrates and Nitrites in Water is significant issue for human health.
Thus, I want to show that how it works and effects to human being, especially infants, through my kinetic water sculpture.

Overview of the working process

Final sculpture
Final sculpture

1. Sketch

Draft Sketch of Kinetic Water Sculpture
Draft Sketch of Kinetic Water Sculpture

I would make a farm land with some animals and farmers include private wall, there are some blue ink on the ground to represent Nitrites. After raining, blue ink (Nitrites) move to ground water, so ground water will change to blue. Finally, the blue water move to infant, and he going to be blue. These whole process could show the process of  the Problem of Nitrates and Nitrites in water.

2. Photos of the process
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For this kinetic water sculpture, I set farmland with some miniatures on the acrylic sheet, and tested water flow with water pump, tubing and straws.

IMG_7685 IMG_7687
I put the farmland with baby into fish tank, and set this tank on my place, 5th floor at College of Design.


  • Environmental Health Investigations Branch. Health Concerns related to Nitrate and Nitrite in Private Well Water. California Department of Health Service, 2000. Print
  • New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Nitrate and Nitrite: Health Information Summary. Environmental Fact Sheet, 2006. Print
  • World Health Organization. Nitrate and Nitrite in Drinking-water. WHO Press, 2011. Print
  • Bureau of Environmental Health. Nitrates and Nitrites: Answers to Frequently Asked Health Questions. Ohio Department of Health, 2009. Print
  • Wheatley River Improvement Group. Nitrates and Their Effect on Water Quality – A Quick Study. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
  • Agency of Human Service. Nitrates and Nitrites in Drinking Water. Vermont Department of Health. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.