Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2003
Publication Date: 3/15/2004
Citation: Hatfield, J.L. 2004. Book review of Nitrate and Man. Journal of Environmental Quality. 33(3):1159. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The concluding paragraph of the book is 'To conclude: 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 over 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: History of nitrates in medicine; The nitrogen cycle and fertility of nature; Metabolism of nitrate; Nitrate in body fluids; Case against nitrate, a critical examination; Nitrate regulations; Beneficial effects of nitrate; and Summary and conclusions. This book helps place the information into a context about nitrate levels in our water and food and the meaning of these concentrations on our health. This book would be a good resource for environmental science classes to create another source of information on water quality. This book is a must read for all environmental scientists to create an inquisitiveness about the sources and interpretation of the data being used to create policy.