Breathing contaminated air can have serious consequences. As a certified diver it is your duty to make sure you stay safe under water. If you want to know more about air quality, keep reading.
There are various factors we should keep in mind when we want to know if the air we are brething is fine.
By complying with a series of measures, we can avoid incidents caused by polluted air both by deterioration of the equipment itself, as well as by oil, CO, CO2 … The consequences of this type of accident can vary from dizziness and vomiting to loss of consciousness.
Moisture residues can lead to corrosion of the metal components of the regulator and can cause it to freeze due to heat loss caused by increased gas volume. The humidity and cold that form during the expansion of the compressed air can cause the 1st stage of the regulator to block due to the formation of ice, which can cause an continous flow, or even worse, a complete interruption of the air supply.
In case the residual oil in the breathing air is clearly above the limit value, then the diver notices an oily or rancid taste. In addition to acute irritation with coughing and shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting are likely to occur. The oily mixture can form a permanent deposit in the lungs and therefore damage tissue when inhaled frequently.
Carbon dioxide is a natural component of air in very small concentrations. However, at higher doses it leads to respiratory limitation and even respiratory arrest. Inhaled air that contains too high concentrations of carbon dioxide makes the heart beat faster, increases blood pressure, and causes shortness of breath. The worst case scenario is the loss of consciousness.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is absorbed by the hemoglobin in our blood more easily than oxygen, which reduces the arrival of oxygen to the tissues, which can lead to death.
The severity of CO poisoning depends on its concentration in the breathed gas and the time of exposure. During the descent phase of the dive, the partial pressure of oxygen rises, causing no symptoms of CO poisoning. But during the ascent, when the partial pressure of oxygen is reduced, the amount of dissolved oxygen is also reduced and this can lead to hypoxia.
CO contamination generally occurs due to the impurities contained in the air drawn in by the compressor or the contaminants generated by the compressor itself.
When the diver descends, the ambient pressure increases and the amount of gaseous pollutants he breathes also increases. This explains why a polluted gas that is not toxic on the surface can be so deep down.
What can we do to avoid polluted air?
When you go diving or loading your tank at a dive center, you should take the following into account:
- Ask questions and be observant. Ask about compressor maintenance, procedures, and tests and see the condition and location of the compressor
- Always perform a gas check before diving. If your breathing gas has an unusual smell or taste, don’t dive with it.
- Fill the bottles only in reputable dive centers, clubs or shops.
- Keep the revisions of the bottles and the equipment updated, in this case it is also important to go to trust centers where you know that they will carry out the revision correctly, eliminating any impurities or damage to your equipment.
- You can also check your bottle for the presence of CO using a personal CO detection device, especially when you have concerns about the quality of your air supply or when you cannot determine where and how the bottles have been filled.
Do you know what Pure Air is?
Pure Air is a certificate awarded to companies with BAUER compressors and guarantees that divers actually recieve pure breathing air in accordance with European standards. On Tenerife, Scubanana is the only dive centre with this certificate.
Certified BAUER Pure Air stations must operate BAUER high-pressure breathing air compressors that are equipped with an electronic filter saturation control, which prevents delays and incorrect filter cartridge exchanges, thus eliminating a major source of contaminated air.
Companies with this certification must pass an inspection every twelve months. Breathing air quality measurement comprises measuring the water content as well as the remaining concentrations of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oil in accordance with the current strict standard.