Bacteria Testing

Most client’s call for Bacteria testing because of events occurring in the client home or building that present a potential for bacterial contamination of surfaces or the air space. These include among others, sewerage pipe backups, sewerage or drain leaks from work spaces or living units above the clients work or living space and flooded basements. Cold water humidifiers are also a concern, because without daily sterilization they can become bacteria farms. In most instances, some water event is associated with the problem. Other areas of concern are in food preparation, storage and handling areas, and medical facilities such as stand-alone remote surgical facilities and renal treatment centers.

Airborne bacteria are usually uncommon, once the water problem has been corrected (dried up) since most bacteria require moisture to survive and multiply. When Boston Environmental is called upon to test for bacteria, (except for Legionella which is addressed on a separate web page) testing is conducted for bacteria in the air or on surfaces which have remained wetted for a prolonged period. The exception, is surfaces which are routinely recharged with bacteria such as door handles on public restrooms, computer keyboards, telephone hand sets, cell phones, handles on gym equipment, etc. which are exception because of repeated and continued touching/handling by one or more individuals who can re-contaminate the surfaces.

The bacterial populations can be cultured from air, surfaces, and from bulk samples. However, it should be understood that most human pathogens are unlikely to be present in environmental samples. Most bacteria are identified by their staining reaction (gram negative or gram positive) or their morphology (spherical or rod shaped). Human pathogens are best identified by PCR techniques (Polymerase Chain Reaction) a technology used in molecular biology, which examines the DNA sequence of the bacteria. Gram negative bacteria are typically present where sewerage spills have occurred. Cold water humidifiers are a source of the gram positive bacteria, thermophilic actinomycetes. This bacteria, often found in the air or the scale or water reservoir of cold water humidifiers, produces symptoms of chest tightness, cough and fever.

Boston Environmental can conduct testing for bacteria in the air or on surfaces as may be required by the client, and can identify through laboratory testing, a wide range of rod, spherical, or gram negative and gram positive bacteria types.

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