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Another DNA Technique for Human Bacteroides Further Revolutionizes Sewage Contamination Testing


EMSL Analytical announces a new method to analyze for fecal contaminates from human sources.

A new test to determine the presence of human fecal or sewage contamination was introduced by EMSL Analytical today. This new method, developed at EMSL, was based upon research conducted for the EPA for total Bacteroides. Performing additional research on other published methods, EMSL modified the test to develop a method that is specific for fecal and sewage contamination from human sources.

This new test has many advantages over the traditional total coliforms, fecal coliforms, fecal streptococcus, Enterococcus, and E. coli tests, including the following:

1. While Bacteroides is specific for fecal contamination, human Bacteroides is specific for fecal contamination from human sources

2. Coliforms, E. coli, fecal streptococcus and Enterococcus come from animal and human sources, limiting the usefulness of the test

3. Coliforms, E.coli, fecal streptococuus and Enterococcus can grow in water, soil, sediments and on vegetation in uncontaminated environments. (E. coli for example is found in clean environments in the tropics).

4. Since Bacteroides outnumber coliforms by 1000:1 and outnumber E. coli by 10,000:1, the chances of finding it are greatly enhanced over the traditional methods.

5. Traditional culture based tests rely on the presence of the live bacteria. Unfortunately these groups of organisms often will not be viable or will die once outside of the gastrointestinal tract. This means that a negative result does not mean the absence of fecal contamination. The new Bacteroides tests overcome this limitation since PCR techniques are utilized. The laboratory can detect live, nonviable, or viable but not culturable organisms.

6. Using Total Bacteroides and Human Bacteroides, it is now possible to estimate the amount of fecal contamination from human and non-human sources.

This test can be performed in most matrices and results can be obtained in a matter of hours, not days. To learn more about this new analytical method please contact Diane Miskowski at 800-220-3675 x1218 or

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a leading, national provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public.

To learn more about EMSL Analytical please visit: or, or contact EMSL at (800)220-3675 or


 Fecal Contamination

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