Heterotrophic plate count

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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

A test used to estimate the total number of all types of bacteria in an environmental sample, usually water (WHO 2003).

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

The lower the HPC, the better the biological water quality. Other names for the procedure (within the water industry) include total plate count, standard plate count, plate count and aerobic plate count.Although standardized methods have been formalized, HPC test methods involve a wide variety of test conditions that lead to a wide range of quantitative and qualitative results. Temperatures employed range from around 20°C to 40°C, incubation times from a few hours to seven days or a few weeks, and nutrient conditions from low to high. The test itself does not specify the organisms that are detected (WHO 2003).


WHO (2003), Heterotrophic Plate Counts and drinking-water safety: The significance of HPCs for water quality and human health


WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

External Resources


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