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Tropical Storm Causes Sewage Contamination for many Florida Residents

EMSL Analytical offers Bacteroides test for those affected by sewage overflow.


Orlando, FL – WEBWIRE
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations

Earlier in June, Tropical Storm Colin hit landfall along the East Coast that brought large amounts of rain, which flowed into sewer systems and caused sewage overflow in some areas. Tampa, Florida was one area that was hit especially hard with sewage overflow, which had over 350,000 gallons of untreated sewage water flow into a local river. Sewage contamination can expose residents to a variety of pathogens including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and parasites.

“When a tropical storm causes flooding, many residents in the area are concerned about health risks associated with sewage contamination,” said Diane Miskowski, MPH, National Legionella Program Manager at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “EMSL Analytical has developed Bacteroides testing for sewage contamination in buildings and water. Bacteroides testing has many advantages over the traditional culture tests for total coliforms, fecal coliforms, fecal streptococci, enterococci and E.coli tests.”

EMSL Analytical, Inc. has developed three testing methods to determine the presence of fecal or sewage contamination. These tests include Total Bacteroides and Human Bacteriodes. Total Bacteroides encompasses animal and human sources, while Human Bacteroides is for human sources only.

The Bacteroides test can detect live, nonviable or viable but not culturable bacteria. Traditional culture based tests require the presence of live bacteria. With a traditional culture based test, a negative coliform or E.coli result does not mean the absence of fecal contamination.

The following are some quick guidelines on how to choose between the Bacteroides tests:

  • If the concern is contamination from surface water, river or storm water after a flood, Total Bacteroides is the best choice. Runoff from streets, 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.
  • If the concern is a toilet overflow or backup or overflow from a sanitary sewer handling only human discharges, then Human Bacteroides is the best choices. Using either of these tests, background contamination by animal Bacteroides from pets, re-used mops, soles of shoes, etc. is eliminated.
  • If the concern is the contamination from the backup or overflow of a combined sewer discharge, which contains both storm water and sanitary discharges, then Total Bacteroides is the best choice.
  • 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. Using Total and Human Bacteroides will determine what percentage of contamination is from human and farming–related sources.

To learn more about sewage or other environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email  info@EMSL.com .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.


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 Bacteroides tests
 Human Bacteriodes
 Total Bacteroides
 sewage overflow
 tropical storm


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