The central Peruvian Andes is a region of varied geology and land use, likely affecting the surrounding watersheds in a variety of ways. Abnormally high levels of nitrite were measured in several streams in the Lake Junin and Cordillera Blanca regions. These high nitrite concentrations could be explained by several mechanisms: an artifact of sampling and storage, nutrient limitation, oxygen limitation, reduced reactions with hydroxyl radicals due to a reduction in Fenton oxidation reactions, pollution from Mn, As or NO2- or any combination of these factors. High nitrite levels are of concern because they can cause methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal condition for infants or people with weak immune systems. Further studies are needed to better understand the cause behind the unusually high concentrations of nitrite in these streams, as well as the overall input of the cycle of nitrogen.
Includes bibliographical references