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Seawater microbiology

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Reference no: RM389

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  • Wetenschappelijk Instituut Volksgezondheid; Afdeling epidemiologie, more

The Council of the European Communities has adopted a Directive (Council Directive 76/260/EEC) for the harmonization of the legislations of the Member States in this field.

The fundamental objectives of this Directive are:

  • to protect the environment and the public health by reducing the pollution of bathing waters and to prevent further degradation;
  • to inform the public on the quality of bathing waters e.g. "operation blue flag".

Large discrepancies due to a lack of harmonization of methods and a lack of expertise of the laboratories induce several difficulties:

  • production of unreliable results and impossibility to harmonise the situation as requested by the Directive;
  • general doubt expressed by the responsible officials when contamination is detected;
  • damage to the credit given to sanitary control of bathing waters and which consequently does not stimulate national and local authorities to improve the situation;
    and finally, it ruins any effort to inform the public and sheds doubt with the general public on the quality of all bathing waters.

It is not possible to circulate seawater samples with a guarantee of sufficient stability to the different laboratories within the EC. Therefore, it is necessary to bring all participating laboratories in an intercomparison on the determination of faecal microorganisms to the same place in order to provide them with adequate samples.

The host laboratory has the task to provide all participants with the necessary hardware so that they can apply their own method of determination in the same conditions as at home. 7 intercomparisons for a step by step approach are foreseen.

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