A study analysing the accuracy of the test appears in ACS'
journal Environmental Science &
Meredith B. Nevers and colleagues point out that decisions
on whether water is safe for recreational use have been based on tests that
actually show the condition of water in the past. Those tests involve sampling
water for the E- coli bacteria used as red flags for faecal contamination,
putting the samples in culture dishes and waiting to see if any bacteria grow.
As a result, managers might close a beach based on faecal
contamination that existed in the past, but posed no current threat. Likewise,
they might keep a contaminated beach open because the water was clean in the
They describe analysis and validation of a new rapid
water-quality test that could prevent beaches from being closed by providing
accurate, same-day results of bacteria levels. Developed by the US
Environmental Protection Agency, the test's same-day results could help
managers across the country determine whether beaches are safe for swimming.