EPA-NERL: 415.1:  Total Organic Carbon

  • Summary
  • Analytes
  • Revision
  • Data and Sites
Official Method Name
Organic Carbon, Total (Combustion or Oxidation)
Current Revision
Issued 1971; Editorial Revision 1974
Total Organic Carbon Analyzer
Method Subcategory
Method Source
  Methods for the Chemical Analysis of Water and Wastes (MCAWW) (EPA/600/4-79/020)
Brief Method Summary
Organic carbon in a sample is converted to carbon dioxide by catalytic combustion or wet chemical oxidations. The carbon dioxide formed can be measured directly by an infrared detector or converted to methane and measured by a flame ionization detector. The amount of carbon dioxide or methane is directly proportional to the concentration of carbonaceous material in the sample.
Scope and Application
This method determines organic carbon in drinking, surface, and saline waters; domestic and industrial wastes.
Applicable Concentration Range
Above 1 mg/L
(A) Carbonate and Bicarbonate: Effects of carbonate and bicarbonate on measurments must be removed by calculation.
(B) Homogeneity: This method is only applicable to samples that can be reproducibly injected with a microliter pipet. Large particulate in the samples will not be captured by the method.
(C) Bacteria: Bacterial decomposition of TOC constituents can occur. To reduce decomposition's effect, analyze quickly or refrigerate.
Quality Control Requirements
Sample Handling
Sample collection in glass bottles is preferred; plastic bottles are acceptable if they will not leach orgaincs into the sample. Sample is acidified with H2SO4 to pH < 2 when analysis cannot be performed within two hours. Refrigerate at 4oC.
Maximum Holding Time
28 days (MCAWW, Table 1).
Relative Cost
$51 to $200
Sample Preparation Methods