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Unique Microbial Water Tests

Unique Microbial Water Tests


The most commonly used standard to test water quality has been the Coliform test. Coliform is an indicator species, meaning that the Coliform test assumes that if Coliform is present in water that there is a likelyhood that pathogens may be present also. Indicator tests such as this are used instead of more specific tests because they are less expensive. Since there are dozens of potential water borne bacteria that are harmful it becomes prohibitively expensive to test for all dangerous species individually.


Another common water test is for E-coli presence. This is a specific test for a single species.


Simpltek offers a third kind of bacteria test, the Total Microbe test. The Total Microbe test will indicate presence/absence and activity level of any aerobic and facultative bacteria, fungi, yeast and mold (spores), non-specifically. This means it acts as a general or universal test that will detect any microbial presence but like the Coliform test does not identify the specific bacteria, only that you have a problem. Similar to the Coliform test, additional testing is required to determine the actual species.


The Total Microbe water test will pick up species that the Coliform and E-coli tests do not. For example, you could run an E-coli test that shows negative but the sample could contain a high level of Campylobacter that goes undetected. We feel that the Total Microbe test is the best general purpose water test on the market. It lets you know you have a problem quickly, accurately and inexpensively.


The Total Microbe test can best be compared to a laboratory test that uses Petri dishes that contain agar that performs what is known as a “heterotrophic” plate count. The test takes 48 hours to run. The Total Microbe test provides a 99% accurate correlation to this test and takes between 2–24 hours to complete.