Why Grade D Breathing Air Matters
Safety is crucial in any workplace. As the adage for workplace safety goes, “an untrained employee is a hazard to themselves and others.”
The same is true for tools, equipment, and processes that are not meeting safety requirements. These can cause workplace injuries quickly, and the air you breathe is also critical.
Grade D breathing air is essential in all applications. Grade D compressed air must meet strict standards by multiple regulatory agencies such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Meeting Grade D breathing air requirements isn’t a one-time undertaking. It is required in industrial facilities and applications where breathing masks, mouthpieces, and other apparatuses for the direct inhalation of air are involved. Experts need to make meeting compliance standards part of daily routine – from equipment inspection and repair to ongoing employee education.
What is Grade D Breathing Air?
Grade D breathing air is compressed air piped through a respirator and intended for use as breathing air by contractors handling harmful materials. In order to be considered Grade D breathing air, the following must be true:
- The air must be free of any notable odor
- Condensed hydrocarbons cannot exceed 5 mg/m
- Carbon monoxide can’t exceed 20 parts per million (ppm)
- Carbon dioxide must be less than 1,000 ppm
- Oxygen must be 19.5 to 23.5% (by volume)
Grade D breathing air is often supplied from a compressor system located within the application area or through a respirator. This allows for constant airflow during the entire application process. A rotary screw compressor, portable compressed air supply, or a free air pump must be installed and maintained in accordance with CGA G-7 standards. Filters must be changed regularly to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.
It’s important to remember that Grade D breathing air requirements are an essential part of safely completing certain tasks, such as spray foam application, and should not be taken lightly.
OSHA Qualifications for Grade D Breathing Air Requirements
OSHA regulates standards for Grade D breathing air. According to OSHA, compressed air used for respiratory protection must meet certain specifications, such as:
- Oil mist content of no more than 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter
- Water vapor content of no more than 5 milligrams per cubic meter
- Oxygen content of no more than 0.1 percent by volume
Approved respiratory protection should always be used when applying paints and coatings. Properly fitted, full-face respirators with special filters are highly recommended.
Employers are obligated by OSHA to provide their workers with respiratory protection whenever they’re working with compressed air containing any hazardous pollutants, such as organic vapors or oil mists. Additionally, employers must guarantee that
workers are trained on the correct usage and maintenance of respiratory protection in order to ensure the safety of all personnel. Complying with OSHA Grade D breathing air requirements, means a healthier work environment and prepared and informed staff.
What are CGA G-7 Standards?
The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) has been working to develop and promote safety standards for over 100 years. The CGA advocates for “ever-improving safe, secure, and environmentally responsible manufacture, transportation, storage, transfilling, and disposal of industrial, medical, and food gases and their containers.”
The industry relies on CGA G-7 standards to establish the guidelines for Grade D breathing air, specifically around the safety of spray foam installation experts. These standards are also important for complying with regulations that govern safety in work areas.
CGA standards are similar to those set by OSHA, in that Grade D breathing air must not contain:
- More than 0.5 milligrams of oil particles
- More than 5 milligrams of water vapor per cubic meter
Carbon monoxide monitoring standards for Grade D breathing air require that levels remain below the acceptable limit of 25 ppm.
Protocol also requires that compressor air filters be inspected and changed regularly to not only ensure efficiency, but also operator safety. With regular filter changes, those applying spray foam aren’t subjected to dust, dirt, oil particles, or other harmful contaminants.
Regulation Compliance | Single-User vs. Multi-User Applications
When it comes to spray foam application, both single-user and multi-user applications require Grade D breathing air.
Though CGA G-7 standards are in place for both applications, there is one key difference: a compressor used by many users at one time must be equipped with an oxygen monitor to ensure each user is receiving Grade D breathing air.
How to Test Grade D Breathing Air
Testing Grade D breathing air is necessary to ensure that it meets the required respiratory protection standards.
There are a number of tests available to check for oil particles, water vapor, oxygen, and other hazardous air contaminants.
One of the most common tests used to check Grade D breathing air is the oil mist test. Oil mist can be generated by lubricants from compressors and other machines and can cause respiratory irritation, coughing, and other health issues. The oil mist test uses measures the number of oil particles in the air and is commonly used in conjunction with other tests such as the dew test.
Gas chromatography is an analytical technique used to test for air contaminants. Gas chromatography tests the purity of the air in question - for our purposes the compressed air that will be breathed during operation. This test is a highly sensitive and accurate technique, making it suitable for analyzing the breathing air’s purity.
Because Grade D breathing air testing requirements have specific requirements to meet, testing should be completed by an experienced professional.
Why Do Grade D Breathing Air Requirements Exist?
It is necessary to comply with Grade D breathing air requirements to minimize injury or death in the workplace. Optimizing the breathing air that installation experts have available to them means reliability and better morale in the workplace, as well as healthy workers. When OSHA and regulatory requirements are met, spray foam installation experts can have the peace of mind they prefer when starting a job.
Where to Buy Grade D Breathing Air Equipment
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- Reduce hazardous waste by recycling your used solvent
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- Total Finishing Solutions can quote the right solvent recycler for your business and provide finance options