Water Quality Testing Colorado measures the concentration of certain chemicals in a water sample. These chemicals may be present due to natural mineral deposits or dissolved organic substances.
Bacteriological tests measure the presence of coliform bacteria in water (every warm-blooded animal discharges countless coliform organisms). Negative bacterial test results indicate that the water is safe to drink from a bacteriological standpoint.
Color disc test kits provide quick, easy, and accurate results for various parameters. Whether used in the laboratory or the field, they are ideal for water quality testing applications such as cooling towers and boilers, water treatment, aquaculture, limnology, and the environment. All tests use the simple color comparator method to quickly measure water quality parameters, including free chlorine and total chlorine, iron (using the phenanthroline 1.10 method), pH, nitrite-nitrogen, and orthophosphate. All test reagents are included in a convenient carrying case for easy transport.
Most water quality test kits are designed for simple and user-friendly operation by non-technical personnel. Detailed operating procedures and training are typically minimal. Still, personnel must understand the impact of potential analytical interferences, imprecision, and bias in kit responses and the associated interpretation of results. As a result, it is recommended that the decision to use a particular kit for a given application and the design of associated sampling, QA/QC, and troubleshooting protocols be under the direct supervision of trained professional personnel.
Several manufacturers produce chemical test kits in a wide range of choices. Depending on the kit, it may employ microtitration requiring the addition of a titrant drop-wise to a sample or, more commonly, colorimetric reactions comparing a developed indicator against a supplied color chart. Some of the more sophisticated portable laboratories from Dexsil, for example, can assess up to 20 different parameters, including free chlorine, arsenic, copper, total dissolved solids, and nitrite/nitrate.
The Hach Chlorine test kit, for instance, uses powder DPD reagents that react more rapidly with chlorine than tablet-form DPD, providing more precise results. Other kits are capable of measuring the concentration of phenols or turbidity. Some include a photometer that combines the comparator and the test reagents into one unit. These units are “single measurement systems” and feature a compact, portable instrument incorporating the comparator, tube, reagents, color discs, and a carrying case. For a single measurement, the operator adds a pretreated sample to each comparator tube and rotates the color wheel until the test tube color matches the reference color in the display window.
Test strips are the simplest field testing kits for water quality. These paper strips contain a color indicator that reacts with the analyte to be tested. The tester is dipped into the sample, and the result is read against a corresponding chart. These tests are most useful for checking for the presence of contaminants that affect taste, but they are less reliable for detecting chemical and bacteriological contamination.
Chlorine test strips are widely available for testing chlorine levels in pools and hot tubs. They are also used to check bleach and other sanitizers for proper concentrations. These tests can be done at home and are a good idea before using a public pool or hot tub to ensure the disinfectant levels are adequate. Tests for free and total chlorine are simple and can be found at most superstores, hardware stores, or pool-supply outlets.
Other water-testing strips are designed to detect the presence of other contaminants. These tests are less reliable than the chlorine tests. They are typically based on a reaction between an enzyme and a glucose molecule. The resulting color change is compared to a chart provided with the kit. This type of test may be useful for detecting the presence of carbonate root, mercury, hexavalent chromium lead, fluoride, or copper in water samples.
More sophisticated test strips allow users to analyze multiple parameters in a single strip. These kits, termed “Water Quality Labs” by the manufacturer, are ideal for teaching laboratory-based courses in environmental science. They provide all the reagents, meters, and disposable supplies to perform 100 tests for 19-20 water-quality parameters.
The meter portion of these kits can be calibrated to provide the user with an accurate reading. This is important since it allows the user to compare results from one test to another and identify discrepancies. A particularly useful feature is separating the control and experimental zones on each test strip. This design limits the oxidation of the test dye by particular materials and cells in the water sample.
There is a broad range of microbial drinking-water tests on the market, including presence/absence and quantitative tests. These tests are based on indicator bacteria groups (fecal coliforms and E. coli) or on chemical substrates that enzymatically convert to fluorescence, chromogenic, or colorimetric detection. These tests are designed for use in low-resource settings. This paper identifies important characteristics to consider when selecting a test and compiles information for 44 tests in tabular form, which can be used to shortlist the most suitable for any particular setting.
The goal of testing water for microorganisms is to ensure the water is safe to drink. Still, it is impractical and costly to monitor drinking water supplies for every potential pathogen. Fecal indicator bacteria are useful because they can indicate contamination from fecal pollution and provide a clue to the type of pathogen present.
These bacteria are everywhere: in soil, plants, sewage, and manure. They are not harmful, but they may indicate the presence of more dangerous pathogens, such as enteric pathogens. A high ‘total coliform’ count or a positive result for E. coli suggests that the water will likely contain fecal contamination and should be tested for more pathogens or treated immediately.
Bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S) can also be used as water quality indicators. These bacteria naturally occur in the environment but can also be introduced into water sources by agricultural activities or human sewage. H2S is an important water quality parameter because it indicates the amount of organic matter in a sample, which harms oxygen levels and can lead to severe environmental degradation.
The microbial tests described above are a great choice for testing private drinking water supplies at home. If you have a private well, we recommend contacting your local public health inspector to ask about the testing options for your area. Public health inspectors will test your well for fecal indicator bacteria that can show whether your water is contaminated with E. coli and other harmful germs from sewage or animal dung. However, they cannot check for viruses like hepatitis or protozoa like Giardia.
Testing private drinking water supplies at home is a terrific option, and the microbiological tests mentioned above are excellent choices. If you have a private well, we advise contacting your neighborhood public health inspector to determine what testing alternatives are available. For fecal indicator bacteria that can indicate whether your water is contaminated with E, public health inspectors will test your well. Coli and other dangerous bacteria are found in sewage or animal manure. However, they are unable to test for Giardia or viruses like hepatitis.
Chemical test kits come in various options and are produced by numerous vendors. Depending on the kit, it may use colorimetric reactions, which compare a generated indication against a provided color chart, or microtitration, which calls for adding a titrant to a sample drop-by-drop. Several of the more advanced mobile laboratories from
The majority of water quality test kits are made to be easy to use, even by non-technical persons. Training and elaborate operational procedures are often optional. Nonetheless, personnel must comprehend the implications of any possible analytical interferences, bias, and imprecision in kit responses, as well as the interpretation of data that follows. As a result, it is advised that the choice of a specific kit for a particular application and the creation of related samples, QA/QC, and troubleshooting protocols be made directly under the guidance of skilled professionals.