The General Services Building on the Colorado State University campus

Environmental Quality Lab.

Introduction:

The Environmental Quality Lab specializes in the microbiological testing of food, water, natural and man-made swimming areas, wastewater, and soil. We also participate in special research projects including, but not limited to, food spoilage and stability studies, and challenge studies for new products and testing methods. In addition, we offer fish and benthic analysis, and photo microscopy.

  • For information on well use and common well-related issues, click on the Resources tab to the right.
  • For special projects, please contact Doug Rice for a quote.

Hours of Operations Hours 7:30am to 4pm
Mon. thru Fri

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Contacts[+]

EHS Staff Newhouse, James
Water Quality Lab Assistant
Ph:(970) 491-4837
james.newhouse@colostate.edu
EHS Staff Rice, Douglas A
Laboratory Director
Ph:(970) 491-6503
Ph2:(970) 566-4109

Douglas.Rice@ColoState.EDU

Publications[+]

Useful Links[+]

Water, Wastewater, Sludge and Biosolids Analyses

Biological Oxygen Demand (5-Day) $50.00
When microbes respire, they typically consume oxygen in order to make energy. The biological oxygen demand of a water sample measures how much oxygen is used by the activity of microbes within the sample. This value is particularly important in surface water because it affects the health of fish and other aquatic biota. This test measures the dissolved oxygen in the water before and after a five-day period of incubation, giving you a good idea of how dramatically microbial action is affecting the oxygen content of your water.
Chemical Oxygen Demand $40.00
The chemical oxygen demand measures the consumption of oxygen based on the decay of organic chemical materials in the water. As these compounds decay, they can deplete the oxygen level in the water, which can pose a hazard to aquatic biota. This test is particularly relevant to surface water and wastewater.
Confirmation Coliform/Fecal Coliform/E. coli Count $10.00
When a total coliform test returns a positive result, it is useful to investigate further. The confirmation test will tell you whether fecal coliforms or E. coli are present in your water. To complete this test, we grow the bacteria isolated from your original sample under more restrictive conditions which allow us to determine if E. coli is contributing to your total coliform level.
E. coli Most Probable Number (MPN) $65.00
In sludge and other thick matrices, bacteria must be counted differently than in water samples because the material will not pass through a screening membrane. In this test, we inoculate tubes with your sample, and then we look for the development of turbidity (cloudiness) and gas production, which indicate that E. coli is growing in your water. We perform dilutions of your sample and can give you a statistical estimate for the number of organisms per gram based on the growth results. This test is similar to, but more specific than, the Fecal Coliform MPN.
Fecal Coliform / E. coli Count $30.00
This test limits the coliform results to specific strains of bacteria. The digestive systems of humans and warm-blooded animals are home to millions of coliforms, and these are released into the environment in almost all fecal discharge (stool.) A positive test for fecal coliforms indicates that human or animal waste is contaminating your well. E. coli is a specific part of the fecal coliform group, and some strains of these bacteria are potentially harmful. (The benign, water quality indicator E. coli should not be confused with its dangerous brother E. coli O157:H7, which causes sickness and has received significantly more media coverage.) However, any time fecal coliforms or E. coli counts are above the limit, your water could contain any number of more harmful microbes that cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, or other more serious symptoms.
Fecal Coliform Most Probable Number (MPN) $60.00
In sludge and other thick matrices, bacteria must be counted differently than in water samples because the material will not pass through a screening membrane. In this test, we inoculate tubes with your sample and look for the development of turbidity (cloudiness) and gas production, which indicate that fecal coliforms are growing in your water. We perform dilutions of your sample and can give you a statistical estimate for the number of organisms per gram based on the growth results.
Helminth Ova $50.00
Helminth ova, or eggs, are potential contaminants in wastewater and sludge. The microscopic eggs are the offspring of parasitic helminth worms, which can cause disease in humans if ingested. They can vary in size and shape, which makes this test more difficult and expensive to perform than other microbial tests.
Heterotrophic Plate Count $20.00
This count measures the total bacterial density in a sample. Similar to total plate count, the heterotrophic plate count focuses on the number of bacteria of all types. A heterotrophic organism requires organic compounds for nourishment; that is, it eats foods that contain carbon. Most animals, including humans, and many bacteria are heterotrophic.
Iron Bacteria (Presence/Absence) $20.00
These bacteria are oxidizing agents, which combine iron or manganese dissolved in ground water with oxygen, forming a foul smelling brown slime. The slime has an unpleasant odor resembling fuel oil, cucumbers or sewage, and it can corrode plumbing and clog screens and pipes. You may notice a yellow, red or orange color in your water or rusty slime deposits forming in toilet tanks.
Pool Test (Total Coliform/Heterotrophic Plate Count) $30.00
This test combines total coliform and heterotrophic counts for samples of pool water, giving you a good idea of potential bacterial contamination in your pool.
Pseudomonas Count $20.00
This test looks for bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas, including the potentially harmful Pseudomonas aeruginosa. P. aeruginosa causes the majority of skin rashes and infections from pool and spa use, according to the International Aquatic Foundation. Commonly found in water, in soil, and on many plants, this bacteria can grow on the inside of pipes used in pool and spa systems and inside of garden hoses uses to fill pools and spas. If a pool or spa is operated without adequate residual sanitizing agents, P. aeruginosa can multiply rapidly to dangerous levels. Because this organism is easy to test for in the lab, it is a good water quality indicator test for your pool or spa.
Salmonella MPN $80.00
In sludge and other thick matrices, bacteria must be counted differently than in water samples because the material will not pass through a screening membrane. In this test, we inoculate tubes with your sample and look for the growth of salmonella bacteria. We perform dilutions of your sample and can give you a statistical estimate for the number of organisms per gram based on the growth results. Because this test requires 15 inoculation tubes and an intricate series of procedural elements, it is more difficult and time consuming than the Fecal Coliform or E. coli MPNs.
Spa Test (Total Coliform/Pseudomonas Count) $30.00
This test combines total coliform and heterotrophic counts for samples of spa water, giving you a good idea of potential bacterial contamination in your spa.
Suspended Solids $10.00
Suspended solids are particles in the water that are simply agitated into solution, rather than chemically dissolved. In this test, we measure the dry mass of your sample. The result will give you an idea of the amount of suspended material that must be dealt with after the water and dissolved materials leave your system.
Swab Test for Spas $10.00
This test combines total plate and Pseudomonas counts for spa owners who are concerned that their water may be contributing to skin or respiratory infections. A swab sample is collected from spa surfaces, filters and tubes.
Total Coliform Count $20.00
Coliform bacteria are extremely common in nature, and most of them are harmless. However, these organisms serve as a useful water quality indicator because a positive test indicates that harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses have also found their way into your water system. The standard for water supplies is less than one coliform bacterium per 100mL of water, and the EPA defines potable water as water that does not contain coliforms.
Total Plate Count $20.00
This is a measure of total biological activity in a water sample, including bacteria, fungi (molds), and yeasts. We perform this test by pouring water from your well on a petri dish that contains all the nutrients these organisms need. Incubation of the plate at 35oC (95oF) simulates human body temperature, where the growth of organisms could be harmful in the body. The number of colonies that grow can be counted to give a result in colony-forming units (cfu) per unit volume of water. A cfu represents any individual organism.
Total Plate Count (swab) $15.00
This test provides similar information to the Total Plate Count described above, but is collected from pool or spa components using a swab
Total Solids $10.00
This test is a measure of dry mass after evaporation of your sample. It measures the combined burden of suspended particles and dissolved chemicals and ions. From this data, you can get an idea of the total burden of solid material per volume.

Chemical Analyses

Chlorine (Free & Total) $10.00
Chlorination is used in most municipal water systems in the US as a means of controlling the growth of harmful microbes. At low levels, this ion has no observable health effects in humans, so a high residual chlorine level in you water is protective against waterborne contaminants. Free chlorine is important for drinking water, while total chlorine is more frequently measured for swimming pools.
Nitrate, Nitrite, and Total Nitrogen $10.00
Nitrate enters well water from animal waste, private septic systems, fertilizers, and decaying plants, among other sources. While this chemical is found naturally in many foods, it can be hazardous in high concentrations in drinking water. This chemical is of a particular concern to pregnant women and infants because it can be converted to nitrite in the infant’s digestive system, which reduces the blood’s ability to transport oxygen. The MCL for Nitrate is 10mg/L, and Nitrite is 1mg/L.

Food Analyses

Staphylococcus Count $20.00
This test probes for the presence of Staphylococcus bacteria, which appear as round, grape-like clusters under a microscope. Several strains of Staphylococcus are pathogenic, so this test is a good indicator for more serious contamination problems
Staphylococcus Count (Swab) $20.00
This test probes for the presence of Staphylococcus bacteria, which appear as round, grape-like clusters under a microscope. Several strains of Staphylococcus are pathogenic, so this test is a good indicator for more serious contamination problems. The swab version of the test is similar to the sample version.
Total Coliform/E. coli Count $25.00
Coliform bacteria are extremely common in nature, and most of them are harmless. However, these organisms serve as a useful water quality indicator because a positive test indicates that harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses have also found their way into your water system. The standard for water supplies is less than one coliform bacterium per 100mL of water, and the EPA defines potable water as water that does not contain coliforms. E. coli is a specific part of the fecal coliform group, and some strains of these bacteria are potentially harmful. (The benign, water quality indicator E. coli should not be confused with its dangerous brother E. coli O157:H7, which causes sickness and has received significantly more media coverage.) However, any time fecal coliforms or E. coli counts are above the limit, your water could contain any number of more harmful microbes that cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, or other more serious symptoms.
Total Plate Count $20.00
This is a measure of total biological activity in a water sample, including bacteria, fungi (molds), and yeasts. We perform this test by pouring water from your well on a petri dish that contains all the nutrients these organisms need. Incubation of the plate at 35oC (95oF) simulates human body temperature, where the growth of organisms could be harmful in the body. The number of colonies that grow can be counted to give a result in colony-forming units (cfu) per unit volume of water. A cfu represents any individual organism.
Total Plate Count (swab) $15.00
This test provides similar information to the Total Plate Count described above, but is collected from pool or spa components using a swab
Yeast/Mold $20.00
This test gives you a good idea of the amount of yeast or fungal (mold) organisms in your sample. If the yeast/mold test returns a positive result, you might want to consider a mold identification test

Other Analyses

Actinomycete Count $30.00
This test probes for bacteria of the genus Actinomyces, some of which can cause respiratory abscesses. The bacteria are anaerobic, meaning that they do not require oxygen, and they grow in a contiguous spread that resembles a fungus.
Bacterial Identification $50.00
This test is a recent addition to our laboratory. With updated technology, it is now possible to identify the type of bacteria present in your sample.
Conductivity $5.00
Conductivity is a measure of the sum of mineral salts in water. This test, also called total mineral content or total residue, can be conducted with a probe that measures electrical current through a water sample. Another measure of total dissolved solids (TDS) can be conducted by weighing the amount of material remaining after the evaporation of water.
Dissolved Oxygen $5.00
The amount of oxygen water can hold depends on temperature (more oxygen can dissolve in colder water), pressure (more oxygen can dissolve in water at higher pressures), and salinity (more oxygen can dissolve in water with a low salt content). DO is primarily relevant to surface water and aquatic organism populations, but it can also be a good indicator of groundwater quality.
Mold Identification $50.00
The mold identification test is an expansion of the presence/absence yeast/mold test. Molds are fungal organisms that can cause respiratory symptoms or other health problems if they become aerosolized and are inhaled.
pH/Temperature $5.00
These tests are often combined because they are so easy and inexpensive to conduct, but they provide good information about the quality of your water. In groundwater, the temperature should be relatively constant. The pH, which is a measure of the acidity or basicity of your water, should also stay within a narrow range. In Colorado, the pH of well water is normally between 6.5 and 8.5. Levels of pH that are too low (acidic) or too high (basic) can damage your plumbing system and increase the concentration of dissolved chemicals in your water. Damage to your pipes can also cause heavy metals like lead to dissolve into your water, which can make you or your family sick.
Turbidity $5.00
In drinking water, turbidity is caused by suspended sediments from erosion and runoff discharges. It makes the water cloudy and can be a problem for aquatic organisms in lakes and streams. Turbidity is a physical contaminant and is rarely a problem in private wells.
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