Microbiological Water Testing

Whether you have a pharmaceutical business, personal care or cosmetic business or food/beverage business, water testing reports for regulatory compliance are a necessity, and it is indispensable to get your water sample tested from a certified laboratory.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that at least 2 billion people worldwide use water from sources contaminated with fecal material. Water contamination by pathogenic microbes is commonly caused by deficient quality control and sanitation methods.

Microbiological analysis is the most accurate and effectual way of detecting fecal contamination in water. Feces of humans, birds, animals and livestock enters and contaminates the water, making it unfit for consumption. As such, microbial analysis of water is an imperative aspect of water testing.

Water microbiology is the study of the microbiome that lives, flourishes and is transported in water. Water, in some instances, sustains microbes – both those that are not harmful to humans and those that are pathogenic and can spread diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid Fever, Salmonella, Dysentery, and E. Coli. These pathogens can easily be transported from one location to another by water.

Water can sustain the growth of many species and types of microbes that are beneficial to humans. However, the harmful growth of pathogenic bacteria in water sources can make it detrimental to the health of humans, animals and plants.

Bacteria primarily found in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals (e.g., E. coli, Vibrio, Shigella, Salmonella, etc.) can travel and contaminate water through feces, thereby rendering it harmful for ingestion. Moreover, viruses like Rotavirus, Enterovirus, etc., that reside within the gastrointestinal system of warm-blooded animals can be transmitted to the water supply and, in turn, transferred to humans or other animals causing severe illness and death.

Microbiological testing of water

Understanding the quality of water and water sources is vital to ensuring safety for consumption. Therefore, testing water used for both drinking and generating consumer products is essential to avoid adverse effects.

Microbiological water testing is the exercise of sampling water, applying testing techniques, isolating and filtering microorganisms and using indicators or genetic sequences to identify and quantify microbiological organisms in a water sample. There are several different procedures for testing the quality of water which help identify the quantify the type of microorganisms present in a sample. Though there are several traditional methods for indicating water contamination, CMDC Labs provides specific testing options for overcoming some of the most difficult challenges that clients have with securing the identification of pathogenic species. Accurate and timely diagnosis of resident microorganisms in water and water sources is performed in the laboratory using protocols designed to achieve consistent results. Periodic evaluation of the microbial content and chemical purity of water is a sound manufacturing practice for ensuring water quality.

Methods for microbial testing of water

Microbiological water testing is the appropriate method for analyzing water for microorganisms. For example, clients may suspect contamination when they see water turbidity or a decrease in water clarity. Analytical experiments performed in the laboratory, using a range of different methods, can confirm the presence, identity and/or quantity of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi and viruses) that are pathogenic. Risk of disease can be prevented by performing routine microbiome testing of drinking water supplies per international standards.

Coliform and indicator organisms

One of the most effective microbiological water testing standards for water quality, detection and enumeration is Coliform (a group of gram-negative bacteria that can ferment lactose with the production of gas within 48 hours). Enteric pathogens or other microorganisms present in water can be identified by the coexistence of Coliform. The presence of Coliform in drinking water could indicate the presence of more pathogenic bacterial or viral species due to the high probability of the indication of fecal contamination. Most of the time Coliform itself is not harmful, but a high ‘total Coliform’ count would always require further analysis to confirm the total type of Coliforms, such as fecal. For example, Klebsiella, Escherichia and Enterobacter are examples of fecal coliforms. The presence of fecal Streptococci/Enterococci in a water supply would also confirm fecal contamination.

What is the microbial limit for drinking water?

Businesses in the food industry are generally required to test the water used in their manufacturing processes and submit a report of the findings confirming their compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA sets legal limits on over 90 contaminants in drinking water. The legal limit for a contaminant reflects the level that protects human health and that water systems can achieve using the best available technology. EPA rules also set water-testing schedules and methods that water systems must follow.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) allows individual states to set and enforce their own drinking water standards if they are, at a minimum, as stringent as the EPA’s national standards.

CMDC Labs for microbiological testing of water

Microbiological water analysis by a trusted laboratory has never been easier. It is a safe and effective way to monitor the quality of water. CMDC Labs routinely tests water samples from a number of different sources including drinking water, water used to manufacture food products and personal care products, environmental and recreational sources, etc. Analysis can be performed on various bacterial and viral pathogens with both high and low contamination limits utilizing several different testing methods including indicator organisms, membrane filtration, selective media, or even 16S/18S/ITS technology. Contact us to get your water tested in our modern, state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory.

Contact us today for expedited timelines, reduced costs and expert support from research to rollout