What’s in the Air?

 In Education

Humans need oxygen to survive. But our planet Earth does not provide oxygen in its purest form, as it is often compounded with other gases. On land, we breathe in air where oxygen comprises about 20%.  However, as machines like car engines that runs on oil has become an integral part of human life, the quality of air is degraded as toxic gases are being integrated. This situation is similar when we are producing high pressure breathing air to fill our SCUBA or SCBA cylinders.

Photo courtesy from Nirman Care

The usual way we fill our cylinders with high pressure breathing air is with the use of a compressor. But compressors are machines that emits other gases when operated. These emitted gases, usually comes in the form of carbon, may be suctioned in the compressors intake pipe causing the air in your cylinders to be contaminated and not safe for human breathing.

We humans are adopted to breathing air with some miniature carbon content. In fact, the air that we breath naturally contains 0.04% carbon dioxide. But as machines are operated to fill-in high pressure breathing air, this figure can exponentially increase.

PS. Before we proceed, instead of air, you may consider filling your cylinders with pure oxygen as it is the only gas required for human survival while other air-related gases, like nitrogen and carbon, are not used in our body system. Well, this is a BIG NO NO especially when you go scuba diving as pure oxygen becomes toxic when inhaled under pressure.

How Clean High Pressure Breathing Air should be

Photo courtesy from Scuba Engineer

Obviously, the first requirement for a clean high pressure breathing air is that it has no objectionable taste or nauseous odor. Just in case you encounter this with your senses, immediately discontinue the use of the air supply and have it check with a certified technician.

High pressure breathing air that has no objectionable taste or nauseous odor does not mean that it is 100% clean and safe. You have to take note that some harmful gas contaminating the air in your cylinder has no taste or odor and the only way to detect them is through air quality testing. With this and for safety purposes, the Government of Australia has set standards for Air Quality testing for High Pressure Breathing Air as prescribed under AS/NZS 1715: 1994 and revised accordingly under AS/NZS 1715: 2009, as follows:

  • Volume of oxygen = should not be less than 19.5% but not exceeding 22%
  • Volume of carbon monoxide(CO) = should not be more than 11 mg/m3 or 10 ppm
  • Volume of carbon dioxide(CO2) = should not be more than  1,400  mg/m3 or 800 ppm
  • Volume of oil = should not be more than 1 mg/m3
  • Volume of water inside the cylinder = should not be more than 100 mg/m3

Now, imagine if these standards are not set, human health will be place under jeopardy as toxic gas levels exceeding the above-mentioned limits can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, seizure, coma and even death.

At the end of the day, nobody wants to breath in contaminated air. This is on top of the fact that one of the reasons why we go diving is to get rid of the polluted metropolis life, go to the ocean and breath fresh sea breeze. Here at Breathing Air Australia, we guarantee you that our Go Air Safety program will give you the best high pressure breathing air quality possible.

You can also read our related article about Factors Affecting the Quality of High Pressure Breathing Air.

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