Compressed air is a critical utility used in over 90% of manufacturing facilities. Compressed air used for industrial purposes is in a different category from compressed air used for medical and breathing purposes. You would think that limits for breathing air would be more stringent than manufacturing air – but that’s not the case.
Breathing air specifications are primarily concerned with gases like carbon monoxide (the silent killer), carbon dioxide, oxygen percentage, total gaseous hydrocarbons, water in some cases, and condensed hydrocarbons (oil mist). The limits for breathing air are generally not adequate for process air that needs to be clean, dry and oil free.
The primary contaminants for air used in industrial applications are Particles, Water, Oil, and in some cases – Microorganisms and Gases. ISO 8573-1 Purity Classes provide acceptable limits for a variety of applications ranging from clean, dry, and oil-free to general purpose air used for industrial tools and pneumatic-fluid power-operated machines. ISO 8573-1:2010 Purity Classes are aligned with currently available purification filters. Compressed air testing is the only way to know if your purification filters are performing as expected.
ISO 8573-1 provides definitions that are key to understanding why breathing air specifications may be inappropriate for industrial / manufacturing compressed air quality.