Compressed breathing air should always be tested through a third-party, accredited laboratory. Proper compressed air testing requires a trained chemist, the appropriate sampling materials, and a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry instrument. Several international breathing air standards require a laboratory to be certified to ISO 17025 standards. Contact your fill station, dive shop, or compressed air source to ensure that they test their compressed air quarterly.
PADI, the world’s leading SCUBA diver training organization, recommends testing to CGA Grade E requirements with a third-party, accredited laboratory.
As reflected in the chart above, CGA Grade E outlines the limits that compressed breathing air should meet in order to ensure consumer safety. Canadian compressed breathing air providers must meet CSA Z180 requirements, which are more strict than US standards. One major difference is in regards to methane (CH4). Although CGA Grade E does not require testing for this gas, it can be potentially harmful to divers. Because of this, many US dive shops choose to test to CSA Z180 standards as an added protection for their divers.
Dive shop owners can easily and inexpensively test compressed air with an accredited laboratory in order to ensure safety for their customers. Using a PADI preferred partner, like Trace Analytics, offers assurance that the results are accurate and precise.
Never leave the quality of your air to chance. DIY, real-time air analyzers, or self-tests do not provide sufficient or reliable results. These analyzers and tests can serve as a decent, last-minute check before a dive, but they do not replace the comprehensive, verified results from a testing laboratory. Because divers’ lives depend on their breathing air, it is critical to know that the air they are breathing meets quality and safety standards.
“About PADI.” PADI, PADI Travel, 2018, www.padi.com/about/who-we-are.
Millar, Ian L, and Peter G Mouldey. Compressed Breathing Air – The Potential for Evil from Within. Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine, 2008, www.researchgate.net/publication/225301283_Compressed_breathing_air_-_The_potential_for_evil_from_within.
“Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Aug. 2017, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a9.htm.
Trout, Brittany. “Preventing Breathing-Gas Contamination.” Alert Diver | High on Mercury, Alert Diver, 2014, www.alertdiver.com/gascontamination.