Standard Active Last Updated: Feb 08, 2018
ASTM D5904-02(2017)

Standard Test Method for Total Carbon, Inorganic Carbon, and Organic Carbon in Water by Ultraviolet, Persulfate Oxidation, and Membrane Conductivity Detection

Significance and Use

5.1 This test method is used for determination of the carbon content of water from a variety of natural, domestic, and industrial sources. In its most common form, this test method is used to measure organic carbon as a means of monitoring organic pollutants in high purity and drinking water. These measurements are also used in monitoring waste treatment processes.

5.2 The relationship of TOC to other water quality parameters such as chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total oxygen demand (TOD) is described in the literature (6).


1.1 This test method covers the determination of total carbon (TC), inorganic carbon (IC), and total organic carbon (TOC) in water in the range from 0.5 to 30 mg/L of carbon. Higher levels may be determined by sample dilution. The test method utilizes ultraviolet-persulfate oxidation of organic carbon, coupled with a CO2 selective membrane to recover the CO2 into deionized water. The change in conductivity of the deionized water is measured and related to carbon concentration in the oxidized sample. Inorganic carbon is determined in a similar manner without the requirement for oxidation. In both cases, the sample is acidified to facilitate CO2 recovery through the membrane. The relationship between the conductivity measurement and carbon concentration is described by a set of chemometric equations for the chemical equilibrium of CO2, HCO3, H+, and the relationship between the ionic concentrations and the conductivity. The chemometric model includes the temperature dependence of the equilibrium constants and the specific conductances.

1.2 This test method has the advantage of a very high sensitivity detector that allows very low detection levels on relatively small volumes of sample. Also, use of two measurement channels allows determination of CO2 in the sample independently of organic carbon. Isolation of the conductivity detector from the sample by the CO2 selective membrane results in a very stable calibration, with minimal interferences.

1.3 This test method was used successfully with reagent water spiked with sodium bicarbonate and various organic materials. It is the user's responsibility to ensure the validity of this test method for waters of untested matrices.

1.4 This test method is applicable only to carbonaceous matter in the sample that can be introduced into the reaction zone. The injector opening size generally limits the maximum size of particles that can be introduced.

1.5 In addition to laboratory analyses, this test method may be applied to on line monitoring.

1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.7 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

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Book of Standards Volume: 11.02
Developed by Subcommittee: D19.06
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/D5904-02R17
ICS Code: 13.060.50