DIY Bacterial Testing...a Revolution in Quality Control?
Apr 15 2008
From the rapidity of the technique emerges a new concept of
microbiological analysis; where 24+ hour lab results serve for regulatory checks, Â¾ - 9 hour results can now be utilised in daily risk management and incident prevention, as well as effective control of such episodes.
Real answers in real time allow for quick and informed decision-making.
So what does this mean for the water industry?
If we can incorporate rapid results into HACCP programs, educated guesses will become decisions based on fact. Whether for catchment management, Beach Watch, treatment, pools, grey water or even biosolids, this will save a lot of time, money and resources, as well as minimise public health risk. If, using Watercheck, a treatment plant
operator could determine bacterial loading within hours, treatment could be administered at the appropriate level, rather than at a maximum. This would minimise unnecessary cost and chlorine residual.
If an environmental officer was to run a MicroMagic off their 12 volt car socket, results from the first sites could be available before the drive of the catchment area was complete. This would enable the officer to return to a site while still in the vicinity, rather than making the trip again 24 hours after the samples arrive at the lab.
In the case of a suspected contamination incident, rapid results would reduce the time taken to confirm, source and contain a hazard. In recreational waters this would mean more accurate closures: alerting the public to a health risk sooner, or re-opening after a false alarm a day (or more) earlier. If the test was implemented across all levels â residents, local community groups, plumbers and state government - we would generate a larger pool of data, more rapidly sourcing points of contamination at remote locations. The partnership of digital data with GPS and GPRS/Ethernet opens up unlimited opportunities for online water-quality mapping, better managing risk to public health.
How does it work?
The rapidity and automation of the testing process is facilitated by a colour indicator. A water or solid sample is added to the test jar, the lid locked into place, and button depressed on the cap, releasing the growth media and dye. The sample starts as blue, and if it remains blue for the duration of the test then there are zero coliforms and
E.coli. If the sample turns pink, then coliforms are present, and if within 20 minutes of pink the sample turns white, then E. coli is present. The faster the colour change, the larger the bacterial count.
The portable Micromagic instrument incubates Watercheck (freshwater), Coliquik (saltwater) and Solidscheck (solids). It takes spectrophotometric readings of the sample every 15 seconds to quantify the bacteria, updating the user via screen readings, SMS, or computer as it analyses the data. The sample data and instrument calibration
is stored until it is retrieved with a USB stick or sent to a database. In addition to the water industry, the product is being used for daily risk management in the aquaculture, hospitality, dairy and aid industries throughout Australia New Zealand, Asia, Europe, and North and South America.
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