Microbiological testing of water samples: Water online monitoring
Contaminations of drinking, bathing, and/or industrial water in public buildings and spaces such as hospitals, nursing homes, residential & office complexes, and swimming pools with pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Legionella, are nothing short of disasters. And that stands true both for the people who are exposed to the contaminated water, as it can lead to serious life-threatening infections, but also for the operators of those facilities and the water suppliers who are responsible for the safety and quality of the water that they produce.
To help prevent this, in a joint project with Carela GmbH and University Clinic Dresden we have been developing an online monitoring system that can survey the microbiological status of drinking water, industrial water, and swimming pool water with several advantages over conventional methods of analysis, such as:
- Faster results – as most certified laboratories work with the cultivation of the microorganisms, it takes at least 24 hours (but it can take up to 10 days, such as in the case of Legionella) before the results are available, whereas with our system the results are available in approximately one hour.
- Safety boost – online monitoring provides the operator the opportunity to react immediately in case of contamination, rather than having to wait for the lab results before taking any action.
- Better hazard assessment – when the environmental conditions are suboptimal, Pseudomonas and Legionella can enter a dormant state which is characterized by very low metabolic activity. This state is also characterized by a decrease in culturability – the pathogens are considered to be “alive but not culturable”, which means that they will not be detected by the conventional cultivation methods. However, bacteria in this state can still revert to a pathogenic state and contaminate the water, so their detection is important for hazard assessment.
- Cost savings – it reduces man-hours and labor costs (such as by eliminating the need for someone to take / send the sample to the laboratory after collecting it). Additionally, the price per analysis can be kept low thanks to the low-cost method of image analysis. This can make a huge difference, as the cost per sample for a traditional analysis is relatively high and a single sampling point, such as in the case of domestic installations and swimming polls, is never sufficient for an accurate assessment. With (sometimes) weekly examinations needed, it’s easy to see how this can become expensive really fast.
- Online monitoring – the system is hooked to the existing water infrastructure and analyses are performed continuously, no training required.
- Better quality control – the history logs of the microbial status of installations, cooling water systems etc., can be easily documented. Additionally, if dangerous levels are detected the results can be validated by other methods.
In addition to the targeted detection of Legionella and P. aeruginosa, which can cause respiratory diseases (pneumonia) and wound infections, among others, and for which regular monitoring is currently required all over the world, we aim to expand the technology so as to detect all Gram-negative bacteria. This is significant since a large number of waterborne pathogens, such as Yersinia (causing plague), Shigella (causing diarrhea), Campylobacter (causing diarrhea), Vibriones (causing cholera), and Salmonella (causing diarrhea) are Gram-negative.
If you want to learn more about this particular automatic identification system or you are interested in developing a similar custom solution for your business, contact us at [email protected]!