Indicator organism


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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

Microorganisms whose presence is indicative of faecal contamination and possibly of the presence of more harmful microorganisms (WHO 2006).An organism that can be detected with relative ease and specificity and whose presence (or absence) has been shown to be correlated with a specific condition of interest (Symons et al. 2000).

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

The condition of interest may be as specific as the potable quality of treated and disinfected drinking water or as broad as the assessment of the general level of pollution in an ecological system. In the latter case, several indicator organisms can be used (Symons et al. 2000).


Symons, J. M., Bradley, L. C. Jr. and Cleveland, T. C.  2000.  The Drinking Water Dictionary. American Water Works Association WHO (2006)Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater 

WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

External Resources


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