Organic carbon

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Total organic carbon (TOC) is the amount of carbon bound in an organic compound and is often used as a non-specific indicator of water quality or cleanliness of pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment.

A typical analysis for TOC measures both the total carbon present as well as the inorganic carbon (IC). Subtracting the inorganic carbon from the total carbon yields TOC. Another common variant of TOC analysis involves removing the IC portion first and then measuring the leftover carbon. This method involves purging an acidified sample with carbon-free air or nitrogen prior to measurement, and so is more accurately called non-purgeable organic carbon (NPOC).[1]

TOC analysis

Pharmaceutical

Introduction of organic matter into water systems occurs not only from living organisms and from decaying matter in source water, but also from purification and distribution system materials. A relationship may exist between endotoxins, microbial growth, and the development of biofilms on pipeline walls and biofilm growth within pharmaceutical distribution systems. A correlation is believed to exist between TOC concentrations and the levels of endotoxins and microbes. Sustaining low TOC levels helps to control levels of endotoxins and microbes and thereby the development of biofilm growth. The United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), European Pharmacopoeia (EP) and Japanese Pharmacopoeia (JP) recognize TOC as a required test for purified water and water for injection (WFI). For this reason, TOC has found acceptance as a process control attribute in the biotechnology industry to monitor the performance of unit operations comprising purification and distribution systems. As many of these biotechnology operations include the preparation of medicines, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacts numerous regulations to protect the health of the public and ensure the product quality is maintained. To make sure there is no cross-contamination between product runs of different drugs, various cleaning procedures are performed. TOC concentration levels are used to track the success of these cleaning validation procedures especially clean-in-place (CIP).

Applications

TOC is the first chemical analysis to be carried out on potential petroleum source rock in oil exploration. It is very important in detecting contaminants in drinking water, cooling water, water used in semiconductor manufacturing, and water for pharmaceutical use. Analysis may be made either as an online continuous measurement or a lab-based measurement.

TOC detection is an important measurement because of the effects it may have on the environment, human health, and manufacturing processes. TOC is a highly sensitive, non-specific measurement of all organics present in a sample. It, therefore, can be used to regulate the organic chemical discharge to the environment in a manufacturing plant. In addition, low TOC can confirm the absence of potentially harmful organic chemicals in water used to manufacture pharmaceutical products. TOC is also of interest in the field of potable water purification due to disinfection of byproducts. Inorganic carbon poses little to no threat.

References

  1. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, Method 5310A




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