BART Sulfur Reducing Bacteria Tests

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Sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB) live in oxygen-deficient environments. They break down sulfur compounds, producing hydrogen sulfide gas in the process. Hydrogen sulfide gas is foul-smelling and highly corrosive. Of the two types, sulfur-reducing bacteria are the more common. The most obvious sign of a sulfur bacteria problem is the distinctive "rotten egg" odor of hydrogen sulfide gas. As with odors caused by iron bacteria, the sulfur smell may only be noticeable when the water hasn't been run for several hours. In some cases, the odor will only be present when hot water is run; this could indicate that SRBs are building up in the water heater. Blackening of water or dark slime coating the inside of toilet tank may also indicate a sulfur bacteria problem.

Hydrogen sulfide gas produces an offensive "rotten egg" or "sulfur water" odor and taste in the water. In some cases, the odor may be noticeable only when the water is initially turned on or when hot water is used. Heat forces the gas into the air which may cause the odor to be especially offensive in a shower.

One of the many troubles with hydrogen sulfide is its strong corrosiveness to metals such as iron, steel, copper and brass. It can tarnish silverware and discolor copper and brass utensils. Hydrogen sulfide also can cause yellow or black stains on kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Coffee, tea and other beverages made with water containing hydrogen sulfide may be discolored and the appearance and taste of cooked foods can be affected. High concentrations of dissolved hydrogen sulfide also can foul the resin bed of an ion exchange water softener. When a hydrogen sulfide odor occurs in treated water (softened or filtered) and no hydrogen sulfide is detected in the non-treated water, it usually indicates the presence of some form of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the system. Water softeners provide a convenient environment for these bacteria to grow. A "salt-loving" bacteria that uses sulfates as an energy source may produce a black slime inside water softeners.

Sulfur-reducing bacteria, which use sulfur as an energy source, are the primary producers of large quantities of hydrogen sulfide. These bacteria chemically change natural sulfates in water to hydrogen sulfide. Sulfur-reducing bacteria live in oxygen-deficient environments such as deep wells, plumbing systems, water softeners and water heaters. These bacteria usually flourish on the hot water side of a water distribution system. Hydrogen sulfide gas also occurs naturally in some groundwater. It is formed from decomposing underground deposits of organic matter such as decaying plant material. It is found in deep or shallow wells and also can enter surface water through springs, although it quickly escapes to the atmosphere. Hydrogen sulfide often is present in wells drilled in shale or sandstone, or near coal or peat deposits or oil fields. Occasionally, a hot water heater is a source of hydrogen sulfide odor. The magnesium corrosion control rod present in many hot water heaters can chemically reduce naturally occurring sulfates to hydrogen sulfide.

Treating water containing SRB can be easily accomplished, but you must first determine if you have SRB and in what concentrations BART is the Solution:

  • BART stands for Biological Activity Reaction Test
  • With BART, you can monitor for Iron Related Bacteria (IRB) and Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB)
  • The BART Biodetector requires no microscope, no laboratory, and no incubator!
  • The test is done at room temperature in your office or treatment room, on a desk, shelf, or in a cupboard, and is viewed daily.
  • Different microorganisms like to grow at different heights in a column of water to which nutrients have been added.
  • BART biodetectors contain nutrients in the base of a column and a ball.
  • The ball restricts the amount of oxygen entering the water column, so that aerobic organisms grow around the ball and anaerobic organisms grow deep down in the water column.
  • By changing the nutrients in the base of the column, different organisms are encouraged to grow.
  • BART determines presence and activity levels.

Easy to Analyze

The time taken for a color change (reaction) to occur gives a measure of the population size and activity. A color change occurs in the BART tube as a result of the oxygen gradient diffusing from the bottom upward. The change of color indicates a presence of bacteria within that sample. Interpretation is provided with the kit.

The Test

Full instructions for the use of BART biodetectors are included with your purchase. Each individual test consists of:

  • Test vial with media and BART ball
  • Outer tube for spill containment, odor control, disinfection, and disposal

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