Hydrology: Current Research

ISSN: 2157-7587

Open Access

Fermentation Tube Test Statistics for Indirect Water Sampling


Marek Nawalany and Malgorzata Loga

By aiming at correction of the existing standards of the Fermentation Tube Test (FTT) this article critically reviews one of the oldest statistical methodologies used in sanitary engineering clearly relevant to health science. The common practice of water works is to perform the FTT on water samples for detecting fecal bacteria contamination in raw water prior to technological processing. Analysis of the Fermentation Tube Test (FTT) statistics presented in the article is to support a hypothesis that “standard FTT procedures may not be compatible with the statistical tables of FTT in the Standard Methods (1998, 2005)”. The inconsistency can be seen from the observation that the standard FTT procedures require subsequent dilution of water samples, which implies the indirect sampling. At the same time, the Standard Methods (1998, 2005) statistical tables used for FTT interpretations result from the assumption of the direct water sampling. In the article a statistical context of the Most Probable Number of bacteria, MPN, for actual, i.e. indirect, procedures of water sampling is described. Theoretical background of the inconsistency is explained and the remedy proposed by means of a new formula for calculating Most Probable Number of Bacteria consistent with actual indirect sampling procedures. The inconsistency is illustrated with simple but realistic example. As the ultimate result of the research it is proposed to modify the existing MPN tables and thus eliminate the inconsistency between the standard FTT procedures and the FTT tables published in the Standard Methods (1998, 2005) and ISO (1988) standards.


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