Sewage Pollution Still Widespread in Waterways across the U.S.
EMSL Analytical has developed two testing methods, Total Bacteroides and Human Bacteriodes, to determine fecal or sewage contamination in water samples.
According to the Huffington Post, the infamous Gowanus canal in Brooklyn, N.Y. receives countless gallons of sewage—often untreated—and unsanitary debris that overflow the city’s multi-use pipes after a rainstorm. Even after the rain stops, the noxious water remains in the sulfuric-smelling canal. Although this waterway is an extreme example, it is one of many that are polluted with sewage in the United States.
In addition to overflowing multi-purpose pipes like those near the Gowanus, outdated plumbing carrying water to treatment plants is also a common pathway for sewage, industrial waste, and toxic chemicals to contaminate public areas. Many older communities have been built on top of these combined water systems, which can pose serious health risks.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated between 1.8 million and 3.5 million Americans become sick each year after contact with recreational waters polluted with sewage.
“Environmental sewage contamination is a serious public health issue, and it can affect drinking water and food supplies—not only recreational waters,“ states Diane Miskowski, Business Development Manager at EMSL Analytical. “EMSL Analytical has developed three testing methods to determine the presence of fecal or sewage contamination: Total Bacteroides , Human Bacteriodes, and Human Polyomavirus.”
Total Bacteroides encompasses animal (mammalian) and human sources, while Human Bacteroides and Human Polyomavirus are for human sources only. The following are some quick guidelines on how to choose between the tests:
1) If the concern is contamination from surface water, river, or storm water after a flood, Total Bacteroides is the best choice. Runoff from streets (dog manure), manure-contaminated runoff from agricultural operations, and sanitary wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) overflows are a concern. Flooding increases the risk of human disease caused by both animal and human sources of contamination, so a test that detects both is needed.
2) If the concern is a toilet overflow or a backup/ overflow from a sanitary sewer (which handles only human discharges), then Human Bacteroides or Human Poyomavirus are the best choices. Using either of these tests, background contamination by animal Bacteroides from pets, re-used mops, soles of shoes, etc. is eliminated.
3) If the concern is the contamination from the backup or overflow of a combined sewer discharge, which contains both storm water and sanitary (human) discharges, then Total Bacteroides is the best choice.
4) If identification of the source of fecal contamination from groundwater under the influence of surface water is needed, the best choice is using both Total and Human Bacteroides. The difference in the results represents the amount contributed by all animal sources (e.g. farming operations). Using Total and Human Bacteroides, you will be able to determine what percentage of the contamination is from human and farming-related sources.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is the nation’s leading testing laboratory with over 30 locations throughout the United States and Canada. We are a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in consumer product, environmental, industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, microbiology, radon, food, and materials testing services to professionals and the general public. Please visit our website for a complete listing of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies.
- Contact Information
- Joseph Frasca
- Senior Vice President of Marketing
- EMSL Analytical
- (1) 1-800-220-3675
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