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Drinking Water Services

DRINKING WATER SERVICES

Certified by the Indiana State Department of Health for public health laboratory service in the bacteriological examination of public waters. (Laboratory No. M-49-5)

 

Total Coliforms/E. Coli Testing 

Hosts of human disease, particularly those of the gastro-intestinal tract are spread through contaminated water.  Since the specific isolation and identification of many of the disease-producing bacteria, parasites, and viruses which may exist in water is time consuming and possibly hazardous, appropriate indicator organisms are used to detect the possible presence of coliforms, fecal streptococci, and enterococci.  They were chosen because they are generally present in water containing the pathogens; survive longer in the aquatic environment; are relatively harmless; and are easily grown, isolated, and identified.

E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria that comes from human and animal wastes.  E. coli O157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium E. coli. Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. Infection often causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps; sometimes the infection causes non-bloody diarrhea.  Frequently, no fever is present.  It should be noted that these symptoms are common to a variety of diseases, and may be caused by sources other than contaminated drinking water. 

Total coliforms are currently controlled in drinking water regulations because their presence above the standard indicates problems in treatment or in the distribution system.  The EPA requires all public water systems to monitor for total coliforms in distribution systems.  If total coliforms are found, then the public water system must further analyze that total coliform-positive sample to determine if E. coli is present.

If you get your water from a public water system, then your water system is required by law to notify you if your water is not safe.  If you draw water from a private well, Micro Air, Inc. can provide a Presence/Absence test to detect total coliforms and E. coli in your drinking water. 

Method of Analysis:  MMO-MUG P/A with Colilert for Total Coliforms/E. Coli

                          MMO-MUG P/A with Colilert for Total Coliforms/E. Coli MPN 

Turn Around Time:  24 hours

More information on how to collect a drinking water sample can be found here:

Drinking Water Sampling Instructions

Lead Testing

Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines.  The greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust.  But lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects.  In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure.  Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials.  Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to 8 percent lead.  The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG)   The MCLG for lead is zero. EPA has set this level based on the best available science which shows there is no safe level of exposure to lead.  However, because lead contamination of drinking water often results from corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to water system customers, EPA established a treatment technique rather than an MCL for lead. A treatment technique is an enforceable procedure or level of technological performance which water systems must follow to ensure control of a contaminant.  The treatment technique regulation for lead (referred to as the Lead and Copper rule) requires water systems to control the corrosivity of the water.  The regulation also requires systems to collect tap samples from sites served by the system that are more likely to have plumbing materials containing lead.  If more than 10% of tap water samples exceed the lead action level of 15 parts per billion, then water systems are required to take additional actions.

Method of Analysis:  EPA Method 200.9     

Turn Around Time:  3-5 Days

More information on how to collect a lead in water sample can be found here:

Lead in Water Sampling Instructions

Nitrate/Nitrite Testing 

Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds.  Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted into nitrites.  The greatest use of nitrates is as a fertilizer.

On the short term, excessive levels of nitrate in drinking water have caused serious illness and sometimes death.  The serious illness in infants is due to the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by the body, which can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the child’s blood. This can be an acute condition in which health deteriorates rapidly over a period of days.  Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin. 

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine safe levels of chemicals in drinking water which do or may cause health problems. These non-enforceable levels, based solely on possible health risks and exposure, are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals.  The MCLG for nitrates has been set at 10 parts per million (ppm), for nitrites at 1 ppm, and for total nitrates and nitrites at 10 ppm.

Method of Analysis:  EPA Method SM 4500-NO3D for Nitrate

                          EPA Method SM 4500-NO2B for Nitrite       

Turn Around Time:  3-5 Days 

More information on how to collect a nitrate or nitrite in water sample can be found here:

Nitrate/Nitrite in Water Sampling Instructions