|MadSci Network: Environment|
There are many tests available to determine the state of a river. At all water treatment facilities they monitor the turbidity (particle counts that tell you how cloudy the water is), pH, then there are numerous tests done for bacteria, viruses, and other water borne diseases such as cryptosporidium and giardia. The bacterial methods mainly look for thermal tolerant bacteria numbers as an indirect measure of fecal contamination. Most of the tests are focused on the bacteria, etc. which have been shown to cause health problems in humans. The testing for toxins from industry are mostly controlled by monitoring what the company is emitting into the river etc. A good reference site to go to which has a description and methods for the tests is located at volunteer monitoring network. The program was established by EPA as a partnership between EPA, educators and concerned citizens. Groups are established with EPA and receive guidance, while providing valuable field data back to EPA.
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