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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Oct 25;10(11):5349-63. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10115349.

Suitability of optical, physical and chemical measurements for detection of changes in bacterial drinking water quality.

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Water and Health Unit, Department of Environmental Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 95, FI-70701 Kuopio, Finland.


In this study, different optical, physical and chemical measurements were tested for their capacity to detect changes in water quality. The tests included UV-absorbance at 254 nm, absorbance at 420 nm, turbidity, particle counting, temperature, pH, electric conductivity (EC), free chlorine concentration and ATP concentration measurements. Special emphasis was given to investigating the potential for measurement tools to detect changes in bacterial concentrations in drinking water. Bacterial colony counts (CFU) and total bacterial cell counts (TBC) were used as reference methods for assessing the bacterial water quality. The study consists of a series of laboratory scale experiments: monitoring of regrowth of Pseudomonas fluorescens, estimation of the detection limits for optical measurements using Escherichia coli dilutions, verification of the relationships by analysing grab water samples from various distribution systems and utilisation of the measurements in the case of an accidentally contaminated distribution network. We found significant correlations between the tested measurements and the bacterial water quality. As the bacterial contamination of water often co-occurs with the intrusion of matrixes containing mainly non-bacterial components, the tested measurement tools can be considered to have the potential to rapidly detect any major changes in drinking water quality.

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