Why Test?

Required By Federal Law

Because an equipment failure or a human error can occur at any time, endangering someone's life, periodic testing of compressed breathing air is required by Federal Law 30CFR, PartII, SubpartJ, 11.121(b) which states:

"Compressed gaseous breathing air shall meet the applicable minimum grade requirements for Type I gaseous air set forth in the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) 'Commodity Specification for Air G-7.1', (Grade D or higher quality)."

Don't Risk A Death or Hospitalization

Even though breathing air compressor technology has improved some since Congress passed that law, that hasn't eliminated all deaths and injuries. Several cases are still reported each year, with many more 'close calls' never being reported. Some cases we have heard about are:

A well-known breathing air compressor company used a subcontractor when having a new oxygen fill station installed. The subcontractor was supposed to remove the PVC inserts before soldering the line connections, but didn't. This resulted in the off-gassing, or creation of, chlorine gas. The subcontractor also never purged the tanks when done. Assuming that the installation was done correctly, the breathing air compressor company began filling rebreather tanks. The first tank was sold to a nuclear power plant fire brigade. The random brigade member who happened to get that tank for use in a training exercise almost passed out after a few minutes. Had that tank been used while fighting a fire, that firefighter would have likely died.

Two divers were harvesting sea urchins in 40 feet of water. Their air tanks were being refilled by the divers' tender aboard the fishing vessel. One of the divers resurfaced shortly after starting his third tank, feeling like he was having a heart attack. When breathing the fresh air made him feel better, he realized the air in the tanks must have been contaminated. He looked around for the second diver, who was found a few minutes later on the ocean floor, unrevivable. An investigation found the unsecured high-pressure dive compressor on the vessel's deck had shifted. The compressor's hot exhaust pipe melted a hole in the plastic air intake hose, allowing high levels of carbon monoxide from the engine's exhaust into the air used to refill the dive tanks.

A group of divers became sick, with the resulting immediate investigation revealing no problems, including no abnormal reading on the system's CO detector. Only later did a deeper investigation find methane in the breathing air from a nearby leaking city gas pipe. Another case, similar in nature, found paint solvents. Another found pyrolysis of overheated compressor oil, causing the hospitalization of a diver who ignored the odor in order to continue diving.

A trainee diver with a group of five other students was completing a final assessment. Before the last dive, all six trainees changed their tanks. While the trainee and his partner were descending, the partner moved aside to allow two other divers to ascend. The partner had seen the trainee diver let go of an anchored line, not sure why. The trainee surfaced a distance away from the diving site, not wearing his breathing apparatus, and waving his hands for help. The strong current pushed him too far from a rope thrown to him. His decomposed body was recovered three days later, with toxic gases found in the tank.

A tank of nitrogen was inadvertently delivered with tanks of oxygen to a nursing home in Ohio. When an unqualified maintenance worker was sent to change out low tanks of oxygen, the nitrogen tank was used. The nitrogen tank allegedly had an oxygen label partly covered by a smaller nitrogen label, but the two maintenance workers who had contact with the nitrogen tank deny having seen the nitrogen label. Even though the nitrogen connector did not fit the facility's oxygen system as intended, the untrained worker used a wrench to replace the nitrogen connector with the oxygen connector from the old tank. Four residents of the nursing home died. Six others were hospitalized, with two placed in critical condition.

Avoid Litigation

A grand jury indicted the nursing home company and the medical gas provider company on involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. The two companies were found guilty and fined. In summary, mistakes still happen and the safety of compressed breathing air should never be taken lightly. Also, it is impossible to see beforehand, all of the many ways an incident might occur. The law leaves it up to the judgement of the individuals owning the compressed breathing air system, how often to test, and what kind of safety program to adopt overall. In other words, if you are such an owner, the buck stops with you. The further one strays from the recommendations of compressor manufacturers, standards bodies, and accepted practice, the more likely a jury is to rule against them.

Does your compressed breathing air system need tested?

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We are here for you. Please don't hesitate to contact us.
Email: email@rocketairlabs.com
Phone: (800) 830-4064
Fax: (800) 830-4036
Address: P.O. Box 768, Toluca, IL 61369

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