Breathing Air – Be Warned

BE WARNED – Just because compressors pull in ambient air doesn’t make it suitable for breathing air applications! Air being used for breathing is required to be of a certain quality which was covered by BS4275 and now by BS EN12021. It is normal for the compressed air, that is to be used for breathing air, to come from the factory or workshop compressor and not from a dedicated machine.

These days general purpose factory air will have already been dried down to a pressure dewpoint of +3 degrees Celsius by a refrigerant dryer and will also have passed through particle and oil removal filters. In some cases the air will have also been passed through an activated carbon filter. However, the activated carbon filter is there to remove oil vapour, but this DOES NOT lead to an air quality that is suitable for breathing air.

For breathing air we need to ensure we remove any toxic gases drawn in by the
compressor, or any water related bacteria, such as Legionella, which could be present.

It is the responsibility the end user to establish whether any toxic gases or other harmful substances could be present in the compressed air, and he should employ or find a competent person to draw up any particular requirements concerning this.

Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide are in the air, particularly near car parks and it is unavoidable for the works compressor to draw in these gases.

Similarly, Legionella will grow in non flowing water: the 3 degrees C pressure dewpoint given by a refrigerant dryer isn’t sufficient to stop this growth and kill the bacteria.

If there is any doubt as to what is lurking in your compressed air then a competent person must be sought for their recommendations as the consequences of allowing people to breath in poor quality air can have the most severe consequences to human health.

Thankfully, by using the correct supplier it is relatively easy to install breathing air treatment that will ensure the air is suitable for breathing application.

If you have any queries, or need hep with your breathing air systems, please contact Glaston Compressors where we will be happy to ensure that you are meeting your legal obligations.

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