Breathing Air Information:
It is a legal requirement to ensure that the quality of breathable air being supplied to an operator is at a suitable standard.
The objective of these legal requirements is to ensure the respiratory safety of operatives entering and working in areas considered to be hazardous to health.
Criteria for breathing air:
BS EN 12021:1999
BS 529:2005 (supersedes BS 4275-1997)
COSHH states that:
‘As an employer, there is a clear responsibility under the requirements of the HSE to provide fit for purpose safety equipment for all employees that may work in an environment or carry out a process which may be hazardous to the employee’s health. Should an employer fail to provide and maintain this equipment, they will be liable for any damages claimed by an affected employee.’
BS EN 12021:1999 states that in the case of compressed air for breathing apparatus ‘the volume flow and quality of the air should be thoroughly tested at intervals as specified by a competent person’.
COSHH regulations state that ‘testing should be conducted at least once every 3 months and more frequently when the quality of the air supplied cannot be assured’.
Any defects observed should be remedied before further use.
Testing must not only be completed but must also be documented and records retained for a minimum of 5 years.
The table below illustrates the maximum permissible limits of contaminants found in the air as specified in BS EN 12021:1999
BS EN 12021:1999
21% +/- 1%
Must be as low as possible but not more than 15 ml/m3
Not more than 500 ml/m3
Oil (droplets or mist)
Not more than 0.5 mg/m3
Should your site’s COSHH risk assessment require that tests are conducted on any specific contaminant levels, these can be conducted, on request. BS EN 12021:1999 requires that: Compressed air for breathing apparatus shall not contain any contaminants at a concentration which can cause toxic or harmful effects. In any event all contaminants shall be kept to as low a level as possible and shall be far below the national exposure limit.
The acceptance criteria under BS EN 12021:1999 is: Air up to 40 bar for compressed airline breathing apparatus should have a pressure dew point sufficiently low to prevent condensation and freezing. Where the apparatus is used and stored at a known temperature, the pressure dew point should be at least 5°C below the likely lowest temperature. Where the conditions of usage and storage of the compressed air supply is not known, the pressure dew point should not exceed -11°C.
Note: The purpose of the periodic testing of air quality is to ensure that the control measures you have put in place are delivering air quality as indicated in the table above.
Compressed Air Systems UK offers comprehensive breathing air testing contracts tailored to suit the customers’ requirements whether it’s a single test or multiple test points.
On completion of the tests a copy of the results are given to the customer for their records and if for any reason a test point fails our engineers and technical department are on hand to offer advice on how to remedy any failures.
We have a range of filtration and purification equipment designed to meet / exceed the breathing air recommendations listed above.
We offer Air Quality Testing at Competitive Rates, please contact us on 0121 753 3330.