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Nutrients are chemical elements and compounds found in the environment that plants and animals need to grow and survive. For water-quality investigations the various forms of nitrogen and phosphorus are the nutrients of interest. The forms include nitrate, [nitrite], ammonia, organic nitrogen (in the form of plant material or other organic compounds), and phosphates (orthophosphate and others). Nitrate is the most common form of nitrogen and phosphates are the most common forms of phosphorus found in natural waters. High concentrations of nutrients in water bodies can potentially cause eutrophication and hypoxia.
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