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Press Releases at EMSL

Category Press Release
Publish Date 8/19/2016
Author Jennifer Mazonas
Title Baton Rouge Testing Lab Offers PCR Based Sewage Contamination for Recent Flooding
Introduction EMSL Analytical, Inc. offers Bacteroides testing to assist with sewage contamination.

Baton Rouge, LA, August 19th, 2016  

Earlier in August, large amounts of rainfall across Louisiana has led to flooding across the state. In additional to property damage and mold growth, residents in the flooded areas should be aware of potential sewage contamination. Environmental sewage contamination can affect drinking water and food supplies.

“Residents affected by the recent flooding should be aware of the 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 two testing methods to determine the presence of fecal or sewage contamination. These tests include Total Bacteroides and Human Bacteroides. Total Bacteroides encompasses animal and human sources, while Human Bacteroides is for human sources only.

The Bacteroides test can detect live, non-viable or viable bacteria, 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. 


The laboratory is located at 11931 Industriplex Boulevard, Suite 100 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and can be reached by calling (225) 755-1920. Samples can be submitted to the EMSL’s Baton Rouge laboratory and will be forwarded EMSL’s laboratory headquarters in Cinnaminson, New Jersey for analysis. 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 and materials testing services and products to 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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