Equipment and Kits for Water Quality Testing in South Africa

Water quality testing is normally an essential prerequisite for most uses.  It involves applying various procedures to determine its chemical composition, as well as the nature of any biological content together with such physical characteristics as its radiological properties. In particular, where the tested liquid is intended for human consumption or contact, or where its use may impact on the ecosystem, there are legally mandated regulations that apply to the permitted levels of certain components and other characteristics and that will need to be strictly adhered to.

Depending on the nature of the examination, simple kits may be all that a technician needs. However, for more in-depth water quality testing more sophisticated electronic instrumentation is likely to prove necessary. In general, where a simple confirmation of the presence or absence of a component, or perhaps a rough measure of its concentration is the requirement, more often than not the test kits will be quite adequate. Where, instead, the components under test may be complex in nature, or an accurate quantitative assay is needed only the more specialised type of equipment is likely to suffice.

The standards referred to earlier vary according to how the treated product is to be used, differentiating that destined for human consumption from that for industrial usage or for release into the environment. Typical water quality testing procedure in determining potability, for instance, include noting a sample’s colour and clarity, measuring its pH, checking for dissolved chemicals, including heavy metals, and  the presence of microorganisms such as the common faecal bacterium, E coli and the parasitic protozoan known as Giardia lamblia that is able to cause severe diarrhoea, especially in young children.

Test strips are normally an acceptable means to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid but, for s more precise measurement, a digital pH meter would be the instrument of choice. Other instruments that can be of value in this sphere of investigation include TDS and EC meters. These measure total dissolved solids and electrical conductivity respectively and can be invaluable in a water quality testing laboratory.

As for any biological entities that may be present in a test sample, a simple microscopic examination should be enough to confirm the presence or absence of protozoa. In addition to preliminary microscopy, stained preparations for more intensive study and the use of artificial culture media and methods will normally be necessary to confirm the presence and the identity of any bacterial species with the potential to present a health risk. Where the presence of such organisms is confirmed it will also be necessary to determine whether or not their numbers are within the acceptable limits.

In South Africa, IEPSA is a leading supplier of water quality testing kits, reagents and instruments, as well similar products used by the manufacturers of processed foods and beverages. Our range of top-quality products includes everything that may be needed to perform the various chemical, biological and physical examinations required under the current local legislation.

Beyond the mere supply of these items, we are also positioned to assist in the training of staff in their use and to offer advice regarding the most suitable choices to meet the needs and budgets of anyone involved in water quality testing.

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