The Importance of Ammonia Testing in Water

Ammonia is naturally found in water, as it is produced through the decay of organic matter as well as by humans through the production of fertilisers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals.

When ammonia (NH3) is dissolved in water, some of the ammonia molecules will gain a hydrogen ion and this positively charged species is called ammonium (NH4+). The ratio of NH3 to NH4+ is dependent on the pH and temperature of the water. The lower the pH and the warmer the water; the higher the concentration of ammonium due to the increase of H+ ions.

Ammonia at low concentrations is mostly harmless to humans, however, it is an irritant to the eyes and nose. The taste and odour of the water can be affected by the presence of ammonia.

Ammonia is toxic to aquatic life and has been reportedly toxic at levels as low as 0.5 mg/L. High ammonia levels in natural waters can result in an excess of algae growth, which prevents sunlight from reaching the aquatic life and plants eventually causing death.

Ammonia in Drinking Water

In drinking water, ammonia needs to be monitored to safeguard human health. It may be present after disinfection using monochloramines, or because of leaching from materials used in the pipework construction. Chlorine is known to react with ammonia and therefore decreased disinfection efficiency can be expected if the drinking water contains more than 0.2 mg/L of ammonia.

Lumiso Expert is a multiparameter photometer including over 75 tests for chemical parameters including ammonia tests using both the Indophenol and Nessler methods, meaning there is a test to suit all ammonia monitoring needs. The Lumiso Expert also offers tests for chloramines, which form when ammonia reacts with chlorine, as well as many other useful water quality monitoring parameters.

Ammonia in Wastewater

In wastewater, ammonia can reach high levels due to digestion of nitrogen-containing organic waste. Monitoring of ammonia in wastewater plants is crucial before the effluent is released to prevent damage to local aquatic life. Palintest offers a variety of methods for testing ammonia, and all ammonia test options are available on our Lumiso Expert photometer. This instrument is also designed to be used in challenging environments, with IP67 rating for waterproofing and humidity and impact testing to IK08 as part of EN61010. The instrument touchscreen can also be used with gloved or wet hands and in rainy environments without issue, making it perfect for use in-field when required.

For more information about how you can make your drinking and wastewater quality monitoring quick and simple please contact our team.


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