Testing for Coliform BacteriaMicrobes, such as bacteria and viruses, are the contaminants with the greatest chance of reaching levels high enough to cause acute health effects. You cannot detect bacteria in drinking water by sight, smell, or taste; you must test your water to detect coliform bacteria. Northeast Environmental Laboratory, Inc. (NEL, Inc.) is certified by the Massachusetts DEP to test drinking water samples for bacteria.

Collecting Drinking Water Samples for Coliform Bacteria Testing

You must use the bacteria test kit to help ensure accurate test results when you have your drinking water tested for coliform bacteria. The sample bottle is sterile to assure the sample is not contaminated by bacteria that may already be in a non-sterile bottle. Click on the button below to order your kit. If you have any questions contact NEL, Inc. by e-mail at [email protected], or stop in at the lab in Danvers to obtain a drinking water bacteria test kit.

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Sampling Instructions

Testing Drinking Water for Bacteria

  1. Please note: Bacteria samples have a very short holding time so plan to collect your sample just prior to coming to the lab.
  2. Remove the screen from the faucet. The kitchen faucet is best. If you can’t remove the screen or if the faucet cleanliness is questionable, clean with a weak bleach solution (1/2 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water). You can fill a small bowl or cup with the solution and submerge the mouth of the faucet in it.
  3. Run the cold water for two to three minutes.
  4. Crack and remove the protective plastic seal from the cap of the sterile container provided in the sample kit.
  5. Collect a sample in the sterile container, leaving some space in the container but collecting at least 100mL (fill to the shoulder). Be careful not to touch the inside of the cap or the inside of the bottle so that you don’t contaminate the sample. Cap tightly.
  6. Keep sample cool (in a cooler with ice packs) and deliver to the lab as soon as possible after sample collection to maintain proper holding time requirements.** Sample Drop Off Hours: Monday – Thursday 8am to 3:30pm and Friday 8am to noon without an appointment. If you need to drop off samples outside of those hours please call the lab to schedule. **

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For more information:

New Rules Tackle Bacteria in Drinking Water
When to Test Your Water
EPA Drinking Water Contaminants and Health