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Water Science & Technology Vol 44 No 6 pp 119–126 © IWA Publishing 2001

Suitability of the H2S method for testing untreated and chlorinated water supplies

J. Nair*, R. Gibbs**, K. Mathew*** and G.E. Ho****

*Institute for Environmental Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia
**Institute for Environmental Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia
***Institute for Environmental Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia
****Institute for Environmental Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia


ABSTRACT
Rainwater, borewater and catchment water are used for domestic water supply purposes with or without treatment in remote areas around the world. These places seldom have any facilities for routine testing of their drinking water. A simple on-site testing method is highly required in such areas. The H2S method has been tested for treated drinking water and was found to have a good correlation with the standard methods. The present study was aimed at assessing the suitability of the H2S method for testing different sources of drinking water. Since these types of water may contain H2S producing bacteria not of faecal origin the occurrence of false results in this method cannot be overruled. Therefore it was worthwhile to study whether the positive results are true positive results and what percentage of false positive and false negative results could be expected while using this test for routine analysis of water samples. Results were compared with the results using standard procedures for testing total coliforms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. The present experiment analysed 121 rainwater samples, 17 borewater samples, 41 catchment water samples and 74 remote Aboriginal community water samples. Rainwater, borewater and catchment water samples gave true results of 78.5%, 82.3% and 80.5% respectively while the treated and untreated community samples gave true results of 93.7 and 84.6% respectively. It was concluded that in the developing countries where the acceptable level of total coliform is <10 MPN, the H2S method would be a good test to identify microbial contamination. In other regions, the H2S method could be used as a screening test for drinking water supplies.

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