Benefits of Flow Cytometry in Wastewater

Flow Cytometry, faster and more accurate during a bacterial assessment of wastewater treatment systems.

Flow Cytometer

At Environmental Business Specialists LLC (EBS), we continually search for ways to enhance our laboratory tests to not only suit our diverse client needs but to provide them with more accurate and/or timely results so they can make better decisions regarding their wastewater treatment plant. The fluorescent microscopic procedure we implemented in 2012 continues to be very beneficial to our clients in assessing the overall health of their wastewater treatment system’s bacterial population. Using this advanced staining technique, EBS determines the total amount of bacteria present in a wastewater system in addition to how many bacteria are actively respiring, which is the population capable of BOD degradation. A healthy, active microbial population is one key component for successful wastewater treatment operation.

In 2014, a new and exciting technological procedure was pioneered at our Mandeville, Louisiana laboratory involving the use of flow cytometry for wastewater treatment. This procedure will take bacterial cell counting and health assessments to the next level in the wastewater treatment industry, supplying our clients with more precise and accurate results. In turn, this will allow operators, environmental staff, and managers to not only manage the compliance aspect of their plant better but enable them to make more informed business decisions regarding the plant’s operation and future needs.


Flow cytometry is commonly used in the medical field to generate accurate counts of specific cells of interest using fluorescent stains. The flow cytometer equipment consists of three components – fluidics, optics, and electronics. The sample of interest continuously flows through a capillary tube by a pump driven system and the optics system, which is comprised of lasers and mirrors. The optics system excites the fluorophore that has bound to the specific cell to be analyzed. The electronic portion of the flow cytometer graphs the data based on the fluorescent emissions, internal complexity of the cell, and the specific size of the cell. These three components of the flow cytometer equipment yield extremely accurate data less susceptible to human error.

Once this procedure is perfected, the total and active bacterial health assessment performed at EBS using fluorescent staining will transition from the microscope to the flow cytometer resulting in more precise and accurate results for our client samples. The flow cytometer enhances our opportunity to further explore and understand the effect of industrial process components and chemicals on the bacterial activity within a wastewater treatment system in a multitude of applications such as a nitrifying bacterial assessment.

For more information on how flow cytometry can provide you with better bacterial feedback, contact Environmental Business Specialists at or 985-674-0660.


Learn about the microorganisms in your wastewater treatment system.