Understanding My Results



EPA Water Quality Guidelines-Humans


EPA Water Guidelines-Livestock


Water Softener Performance


The Report:

Analyte Column: A list of the requested analysis to be tested.

Approved Method: The Minnesota Department of Health certified method used to test that particular analyte. NOTE: If approved method has a “*” behind it, this means that the laboratory is not certified by Minnesota Depart of Health for the method but still does the analysis in house.

Reporting Limit: Stearns DHIA laboratories have a specific reporting limit for each tested analyte. The reporting limit is the minimum concentration that an analyte can be measured accurately by the lab with a certain method. Note: This column is not present on Suitability reports.

Result: This is your result.

Units: The unit of measure for a specific analyte. mg/L = ppm

Sample Prep Date/Time: This field is unique to each analyte because not all analytes required to be prepped before they are analyzed. Such prep methods would be acidification, filtration, or digestion. Note: This column is not present on Suitability reports.

Analysis Date/Time: The sample was analyzed on that date and time.

Analyst: The initials of the laboratory personal to analyze that sample.

MDH Recommended Limit: These limits are provided by the Minnesota Department of Health and US EPA. These are the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. Levels over these limits can lead to potential health risks. Note: Not included on all reports see water quality guidelines links below.

Comments: Additional items will be noted in this area.

Flags and Comments:
-Some report flags and comments are explained below but not all.

**The receipt temperature was outside the requirements (less than 6oC) by MN Statute 4740.2087 Subpart 2A.

By Minnesota Department of Health standards, all water samples requiring thermal preservation are required to be receipt at 6oC or lower. However, samples are still considered acceptable and valid under Minnesota Department of Health standards as long as the flag is placed on the report.

+Flagged sample results exceed the recommended limits set by Minnesota Department of Health.
Sample results are higher than the recommended limit set by Minnesota Department of Health and could cause potential health or home problems. See the water quality guidelines link below.

TNTC: TOO NUMEROUS TO COUNT. Sample results exceed the recommended limits set by Minnesota Department of Health.
Coliform or bacteria in the sample was too high or numerous to count. The recommended limit set by Minnesota Department of Health is less that 1. Make sure that proper collection technique was use in collecting the samples, such as flaming or bleaching the faucet.

Sample was received after 30 hours but before 48 hours of collection.
Coliform or bacteria samples are supposed to be set-up by 30 hours after collection. Samples are still considered acceptable and valid, if set up to 48 hours of collection, but a notation needs to be placed on the report.

Sample tested positive for Chlorine.
Coliform or bacteria sample may give a false negative because of the presence of chlorine in the sample.

Results provided are from a Subcontracted Laboratory (Lab Name and MN Cert #). See page 2.
One or many of the analysis requested may have been sent to a subcontracted laboratory because the analysis is not done at Stearns DHIA Laboratories. The report from that laboratory will be attached to the sample results from Stearns DHIA laboratories.


Results for coliform bacteria are reported as either a numerical number or as present/absent. The different readings are from the two different methods of total coliform, membrane or Colilert. Stearns DHIA Laboratories is certified for both methods and both methods are considered acceptable by Minnesota Department of Health. Acceptable results are less than 1 or absent. Other results suggest that there is bacterial coliform in your water supply and has the potential to cause health problems. If a well does come back with the presence of coliform, water should only be used if it is boiled.

Nitrate Nitrogen:
Nitrate Nitrogen, if above the recommended limit, can be fatal to young children. The nitrates are converted to nitrites in the intestines and absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream is prevents hemoglobin from transporting oxygen, which can lead to “blue baby syndrome” and can be fatal. Others who should avoid drinking water high in nitrates are nursing mothers, pregnant women and certain elderly people. If water is found to be high in nitrates, do NOT boil. Boiling the water will only increase the concentration of the nitrates.

Lead is found in natural deposits and it commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. Many times the lead found in tap water is from corrosion or leaching from the plumbing materials. Babies and young children exposed to lead above the recommended limit can have delays in physical and mental development along with problems in attention span and learning abilities. If water is found to be high in lead, do NOT boil. Boiling the water will only increase the concentration of the lead.

Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and rock deposits. Arsenic is now required to be tested for in any new wells that are drilled in the state of Minnesota. The health effects of arsenic over the recommended limit often depend upon how much is consumed along with the length of time consumed. Some health problems that can arise are nervous system problems, skin problems, high blood pressure and reduced intelligence in children. Long term expose has shown to be cancer causing. If water is found to be high in arsenic, do NOT boil. Boiling the water will only increase the concentration.

Stearns DHIA Laboratories
825 12th Street South, PO Box 227
Sauk Centre, MN 56378-0227
320.352.2028 · 800.369.2697
Fax 320.352.6163 · Email


Monday-Friday: 8AM-4PM


Drop Off Locations
Sauk Centre Front Entrance Drop Off
Open 24 Hours
Refrigerator Available for Water, Milk,
and Wet Feed Samples

Drop Off Locations

Click Map for Larger View of Drop Off Locations