Bacteria Analysis

One-Stop Bacteria Analysis

Bacteria are everywhere: in air, water, and soil; in and on animals; on plant surfaces; on man-made surfaces and in indoor environments. Most naturally occurring bacteria do not cause illness in humans.

Some types of bacteria, such as Legionella pneumophila, may cause illness. Bacterial infection in humans may occur from contact, inhalation, and ingestion. The resulting infection may cause asthma, fever, chills, respiratory infection, pneumonia, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and other diseases. Additionally, bacteria can play an important role in the deterioration of building material, offensive odors, and building-related sicknesses.

SGS offers a wide variety of bacteria laboratory services to those seeking to identify bacterial contamination of air, building materials, and/or water. We also provide specialized media for bacteria sampling.


We perform analyses on a variety of matrices including:

  • Air samples
  • Bulk samples (carpet, tiles, drywall, insulation, wallpaper, dust, filters, etc.)
  • Water samples (drinking water, sewage leak water, spa, or bathing water, etc.)
  • Surface samples: (rodac or other contact plates, dust, swabs, etc.)

SGS laboratories performs a wide variety of bacteriological analyses including:

  • Viable bacterial colony counts
  • Gram staining
  • Heterotrophic plate count
  • Bacterial identification
  • coli detection and quantification
  • Fecal Coliform qualitative presence/absence by MUG technique
  • Fecal coliform detection and quantification by MPN, membrane filter
  • Legionella detection and identification

In addition to these services, we provide analysis of environmental endotoxins associated with Gram-negative bacteria. Endotoxins have been implicated in several adverse health effects, both acute and chronic. This includes respiratory problems, fever, and malaise.

As holding times for bacteria samples are extremely short, it is important that samples are submitted to the laboratory within 24 to 48 hours of collection and shipped on ice (with the exception of samples for Legionella analysis, which should be shipped at room temperature). Standard turnaround times for most tests are three to five days. Please call the laboratory if you have any questions about appropriate media, how to sample, or how to ship samples.

Specialty testing – Coliform Bacteria Analysis 

Most Probable Number Analysis (MPN)

“Coliform bacteria” refers to several genera of Gram-negative bacteria in the family Enterobacteriaceae. These bacteria are generally harmless and naturally occur in soil, water, and the digestive systems of animals. While usually not pathogenic, fecal coliforms, including E. coli and Enterococcus, are frequently used as indicator bacteria for possible contamination by other pathogenic organisms.

“Most probable number” (MPN) analysis, allows quantification of coliform bacteria, giving you the concentration of coliform bacteria in your sample. Typical sources requiring MPN analysis for coliforms include drinking water, water parks, and other recreational waters (e.g. oceans, rivers, and lakes). High levels of fecal coliform bacteria in these sources corresponds to an increased chance of developing illness.

MPN analysis is commonly used to measure total and fecal coliform bacteria. SGS offers the Quanti-Tray ® Method developed by Idexx Laboratories, Inc., which can provide you with an MPN quantification of fecal coliform bacteria in water and bulk samples in as little as 24 hours, and at a lower cost than the traditional MPN analysis.

4-Methylumbelliferone Glucuronide (MUG)

Positive/negative tests (e.g. MUG (Colilert) test for total coliform and E. coli and Enterolert for Enterococcus) can be used to detect whether the fecal bacteria are present in a sample. These analyses are quick and inexpensive. However, they are limited as they only provide positive/negative results and do not quantify. They are used in sewage screens.

Contact Us

Our award-winning Client Service Representatives are ready to help solve your bacteria analysis challenges, answer your questions and take your order in these convenient ways: