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The HSL Microbiology Service can help you assess the risks from exposure to microorganisms or materials that may contain microorganisms. The standard testing services we provide are outlined below. For enquires about these, please contact Sample Registration on 0203 028 3383.

Total Viable Bacterial and Fungal counts

Total bacterial and fungal levels are assessed by growth on a range of solid culture media incubated under appropriate conditions. Total levels of viable bacteria and fungi are assessed and predominant culturable species are determined. Assessment can be carried out on air samples, wipe samples and bulk samples, including metal working fluids, water and soil.  Most sample types can be considered for analysis.

Anthrax testing

Presence or absence of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is assessed using DNA and culture-based methods. Microbiological work is performed within HSL's Microbiological Containment Level 3 facility. Analysis for B. anthracis can be carried out on air samples, wipe samples and bulk materials, including soil and plaster. For bulk samples, approximately 10g sample is routinely used in the test, although smaller samples can be analysed. Our Sample Registration Team will provide appropriate containers for transportation of samples.


Endotoxin is a component of the cell envelope of all Gram-negative bacteria and is commonly found in the environment. Endotoxin can cause ill-health via inhalation in those repeatedly exposed to raised levels, irrespective of whether the bacteria are live, dead, whole or fragmented, and there are many working environments where high levels of endotoxin are believed to cause respiratory symptoms. HSL uses a widely accepted, validated and automated quantitative kinetic assay system for endotoxin analysis. Exposure monitoring can be performed from static air and personal air samples (providing information about specific task-related exposures), wipe samples and bulk samples (liquid, organic material etc.). HSL can advise on or assist with air sampling methods and can provide trained field scientists to obtain samples if required.

Bespoke Services

In addition to the services listed above, we are able to carry out a range of bespoke testing services for the molecular identification of bacteria by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), with qualitative tests available for a wide range of fungi and bacteria.

The HSL Microbiology Team has a wide range of experience in bacteriology, mycology and virology and access to extensive facilities, including a 34m3 controlled atmosphere chamber that can be used for controlled release of bioaerosols or microbiological decontamination studies that require the use of hazardous chemicals.  We are able to carry out bespoke project work tailored to customer requirements.

Desk based information gathering

The HSL Microbiology Team has experience in the area of information gathering and literature reviews and is able to carry out literature searching and data gathering to customer requirements.

For further information on bespoke services please contact Alan Beswick, 0203 028 1846.

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