What are nitrate's health effects?

Infants below six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. 

This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for nitrate. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with nitrate in drinking water when the rule was finalized.

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1. What is nitrate?
2. What is nitrate used for?
3. What are nitrate's health effects?
4. What are the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water regulations for nitrate?