AAA Laboratory, Inc.

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Information About Coliform bacteria and Your Bacteria Sample:

Coliform bacteria are common organisms found in our environment.  There are numerous species of these bacteria including fecal types which live in the bowels of warm-blooded animals including humans.  Coliform  bacteria are indicator organisms and the presence of these organisms in a drinking water sample alerts that the water may not be safe to drink.  Drinking water should be absent of coliform bacteria.  (Coliform bacteria can be in a sample if the sample was sampled incorrectly or the faucet in dirty, etc.)

Our Test- The method we use is based on the latest state of the art technology.   The sample is incubated for a specific amount of time at a specific temperature and then examined for a color change.  If the sample turns yellow and does not fluoresce it is positive for Total coliform.  If the sample is yellow and fluoresces it is positive for E.coli.  A clear sample at the end of the incubation period that still looks like clear colorless water is negative or satisfactory.

If a drinking water sample is positive in any way for coliforms the matter should be investigated further and the water should be considered unsafe.  Sometimes the problem is at the faucet tap itself and sanitizing the faucet and aerator will solve the problem.  Construction on plumbing pipes can allow coliforms to get in the system.  A possible solution may be chlorinating the well and plumbing pipes to sanitize the entire system.  Always follow instructions for performing this on your water system.

If E.coli or Fecal coiliform bacteria is confirmed in a drinking water sample, a health risk is immediately posed to the water.  The presence of E.coli indicates contamination into the water supply and therefore other pathogens could be present.  Boiling your water for at lease 5 minutes is a good way to kill these bacteria and be able to consume the water.

Those at greatest risk

Infants, young children, elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for infection from disease causing organisms.

Symptoms of Waterborn Illness

Diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, gas, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and/or fever appearing in as early as a few hours to several days.  Contact your health care provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Bacteria Test Instructions

1.  FOR PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS :  You have 30 hours to get testing started on your bacteria sample so you will want to bring your sample to the lab the same day you take it.  If you are mailing your sample, take your sample in the early afternoon and mail it before the mail truck leaves town so we will recieve it the next morning.

2.  Bring your sample to our lab on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of the week.  Friday samples are not accepted because these must be in an incubator for 24 hours.

3.  Let your water run for several minutes, then remove the cap from the bottle.  Be very careful not to contaminate the inside of the bottle or lid.  Fill the sample bottle to the line on the side of the bottle.  Do not rinse out the powder.

4.  Fill out your paperwork.  Press down hard on the four part form.

5.  If you purchased a bubble mailer kit, use the bubble mailer to mail back to our lab.  Put your sample in a ziplock bag, and simply use the return address label we included and take to the nearest U.S. Post Office.

Nitrates and Drinking Water

Nitrate is a chemical found in certain fertilizers, manure and liquid discharged from septic tanks.  If nitrate is present in the aquifer or groundwater, your well may contain levels of it if the well draws upon this water source.
Infants, elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of having their health affected by nitrate because it reduces the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.  infants can develop a condition known as methemoglobinemia or "blue baby syndrome" if drinking water with high levels of nitrates or eating foods made with nitrate-contaminated water.
Nitrates can enter the groundwater aquifer from applying fertilizers or high concentrations of manure for example, and then finding their way into the groundwater supply.  Water can flow underground in many different ways and directions, affecting wells not necessarily in the area.  Therefore it is a good idea to do at least one nitrate test to see if your well is affected.

Nitrate Test Instructions

It is best to obtain a laboratory bottle to collect your sample.  Alternatively, a clean canning jar can be used.  A pint sized jar is enough for a sample.
Let the water run for approximately 5 minutes.  Fill jar with water sample leaving an inch or two head space.  This sample is fragile and should be tested no later than 48 hours from the time of collection.