Nitrate (as Nitrogen):


Source: Occurs naturally in mineral deposits, soils, seawater, freshwater systems, the atmosphere, and biota. More stable form of combined nitrogen in oxygenated water. Found in the highest levels in groundwater under extensively developed areas. Enters the environment from fertilizer, feedlots, and sewage.
Toxicity results from the body's natural breakdown of nitrate to nitrite. Causes "bluebaby disease," or methemoglobinemia, which threatens oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
Nitrate is used in fertilizer and is found in sewage and wastes from human and/or farm animals and generally gets into drinking water from those activities. Excessive levels of nitrate in drinking water have caused serious illness and sometimes death in infants under six months of age. The serious illness in infants is caused because nitrate is converted to nitrite in the body. Nitrite interferes with the oxygen carrying capacity of the child's blood. This is an acute disease in that symptoms can develop rapidly in infants. In most cases, health deteriorates over a period of days. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin. Clearly, expert medical advice should be sought immediately if these symptoms occur. EPA has set the drinking water standard at 10 parts per million (ppm) for nitrate to protect against the risk of these adverse effects. EPA has also set a drinking water standard for nitrite at 1 ppm. To allow for the fact that the toxicity of nitrate and nitrite are additive, EPA has also established a standard for the sum of nitrate and nitrite at 10 ppm. Drinking water that meets the EPA standard is associated with little to none of this risk and is considered safe with respect to nitrate.

References
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/drinkingwater/inorg_con.htm
http://water.usgs.gov/edu/groundwater-contaminants.html