Epidemics arising from waterborne diseases are a global health problem. Faecal contamination of drinking water is the main cause of these outbreaks. According to WHO (1996) for drinking water to be safe, a 100 ml sample should not contain any coliform bacteria. The standard methods currently used for routine testing have many limitations especially when applied in remote areas. The H2S method has been developed as an on-site, inexpensive and easy to use method to test drinking water for remote and rural areas. The present work analyses the reliability of the H2S method for detecting faecal contamination in drinking water. The minimum level of faecal coliforms that could be detected and the incubation period required at various levels of contamination were studied. The range of temperatures at which the method was effective and the incubation period required at various temperatures were also determined. The H2S method was found to be able to detect contamination down to a level of 1 CFU/100 ml of coliform bacteria. Although the H2S method could be used at a temperature range of 20 to 44°C, temperatures between 28 to 37°C gave faster results. An incubation period of only 24 hours was required at 37°C, which was found to be the most suitable incubation temperature. The incubation period increased with a decrease or increase in temperature.

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