TOC is organic matter, or in other words, any carbon-based contaminant. It contains thousands of parts, which includes colloids, compounds, macroscopic particles, and dissolved macromolecules. It’s also dangerous if not reduced. Total organic carbon reduction or elimination continues to be a headache for water treatment managers but is essential for safe drinking water. The EPA is so concerned about TOCs that it’s cracking down on water treatment plants that fail to remove it from their water. Learn why TOC is toxic and the best methods for treating it.

What’s the big deal?

All water, no matter how pure, contains carbon materials that are introduced into the water from the water source.  It’s also introduced from materials and systems during purification and production. Another source comes directly from workers involved in the processes. (from natural or altered products of living systems or man-made and synthetic compounds)

The problem with TOCs begins when it’s combined with chlorine to treat water, which forms a haloacetic acid or total trihalomethane. (TTM) This turns it into a disinfection by-product, (DBP) resulting in environmental and health risks. The health risks include:


  • Bladder cancer
  • Reproductive problems
  • Pregnancy complications


The higher the TOC level in untreated water, the higher the DBPs in treated water. According to the EPA, in the past 10 years, we’ve learned there are specific microbial pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium, which can cause illness, and are highly resistant to traditional disinfection practices. Because of the risks, the EPA implemented new rules (required by Congress) that necessitates DBP reductions in treated water. In 1996, Stage 1 was implemented to help balance the risks between these pathogens and DBPs. Stage 2, the newest regulation, builds upon Stage 1 to prevent bladder cancer. The cost savings equal approximately $763 million and $1.5 billion annually.

How Can I Ensure Total Organic Carbon Reduction?

TOC reduction sounds easy enough, however, it’s different everywhere and affects environmental factors such as human activity, plant life, and the climate. It requires a delicate balance of custom testing and chemistry for the right formula.

The TOC value of drinking water is important since produced drinking water is often distributed in a few hours. Fast screening of the allowed total organic carbon load, therefore, must be accurate and done quickly. When you lower the concentrations of TOC, public water systems reduce DBP formation and exposure.

At ATS Innova, we have two main tools to reduce TOC which then naturally reduces the amount of TTHMs. Our coagulants replace alum and ferric chloride, which reduces TOC and TTHMs at similar or reduced costs.

Call ATS Innova Today

Now you know the seriousness (bladder cancer, reproductive and pregnancy problems) of not reducing TOC in your water treatment, it’s time you act. Call ATS Innova at 855.215.4600 and learn how we help with total organic carbon reduction and therefore keep your customers and your community safe. Our water experts will evaluate your TOC levels, current processes, and tailor a program that fits with your needs. Call us now!

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