At a minimum we recommend that you test for nitrates in water throughout North Georgia annually. Next to microbiological contaminants, nitrates present the most immediate health risk. The maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate is 10 parts per million. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Nitrates are very common and can come from fertilizer runoff, leaching from septic tanks, sewage, or erosion of natural deposits. High levels of nitrates are very common in farm areas especially around chicken farms.