Fluoride Action Network

Chemical tracers as indicator of human fecal coliforms at storm water outfalls

Source: Environment International 31(8):1133-1140. | October 1st, 2005 | Authors: Sankararamakrishnan N, Guo Q.
Industry type: Miscellaneous


Indicators to distinguish between fecal coliforms of human and animal origin were investigated in water from storm sewer outfalls to a coastal lake during wet and dry weather. The ratio of fecal coliform relative to fecal streptococci count was used as the microbiological indicator. Concentrations of human-activities originated caffeine, anionic surfactant, fluoride, and fluorescence whitening agent (FWA) were used as chemical indicators. The ratio of fecal coliform to fecal streptococci ranged from 0.2 to 3.0, during wet weather making it difficult to interpret the origin of fecal pollution. However, concentrations of caffeine, anionic surfactant, fluoride, and FWA in storm water outflow during wet weather were much higher than those in the lake water during dry weather, indicating the presence of human waste at storm water outfall. Strong correlation between fecal coliform counts and chemical parameter values further indicated the human contribution to the fecal coliform count. In addition, a strong correlation among the chemical parameters suggested that only one of them is needed as chemical tracer to detect the presence of human input.

*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412005000541