The Western Kentucky Regional Laboratory (WKRL) is a department of the Marshall County Health Department and is located in Hardin, KY. WKRL is a public health environmental laboratory dealing primarily with milk and water analysis. WKRL is unique in that it is the only regional laboratory of its kind in the Commonwealth.
Currently most water samples that arrive at WKRL come from private wells in the approximately 30 county service area. Water samples are analyzed for the presence of total coliform and E. coli bacterium. Coliforms are groups of organisms that are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and are used as an indicator organism because it is widely distributed in the environment and survives longer in water than most other bacteria. The presence of the coliform group in a water sample does not necessarily indicate fecal contamination; however, the presence of E. coli does indicate fecal pollution. If contamination is present, county environmentalists can recommend appropriate well disinfection techniques. The laboratory is also qualified to perform bacteriological testing on public water samples should the need arise.
The testing of dairy products has been the longest regulated group of food products in our county, with the exception of drinking water. With the widespread used of dairy products, especially by the very young and geriatric populations, it is crucial that these products be of an acceptable sanitary quality. The quality criterion we use are (1) Freedom from pathogenic bacterial and toxic substances; (2) Freedom from foreign material and (3) Low bacterial count. The FDA establishes and set acceptable procedures and limits for all analytical tests. Based on the test results, corrective action by the producer, manufacturer, etc. may need to be taken. However, the laboratory is not responsible for instituting or implementing any corrective actions regarding test results.
The laboratory and all analysts are required to complete certain quality assurance and quality control measures on a routine basis. FDA representatives inspect the laboratory, records and analyst techniques at least every two years while EPA representatives visit the lab at least once a year.
If you have any questions about the scope or capability of testing at WKRL, please contact Laboratory Director, Wendy Rose at 270-437-4800 or via email at WendyD.Rose@ky.gov