Breathing Air And Air Compressors

We wanted to add this page about breathing air and air compressors as some folks make the assumption that compressed air generated by a typical DIY, small workshop or plant air compressor is safe for breathing.

Breathing air and air compressors do not mix, unless the compressor being used is one built purposefully for generating air for folks to breathe.

DO NOT breathe air from your standard air compressor!

Of course, every time you use your air compressor your air tool is venting compressed air.

That vented air is quite likely full of air borne dust, may have some compressor lubricating oil in it, contains filthy water vapor, and if there is lubrication in your air tool, the compressed air being vented has that in it too.

Air Mask

A general purpose air compressor should NEVER be used to supply breathing air!

The thing is, this air tool vented air is not typically filling an air mask around your mouth and nose. It gets diluted by the air in the workshop, and by the time it reaches your face, should be fairly safe to inhale, though if you are doing a lot of work a face mask filter wouldn’t be a bad idea.

In any case, if you need compressed air for breathing, whether a safety smoke mask or for SCUBA, you want to get a compressor that is rated for supplying breathing air.

There are standards for breathable air.

In the U.S. some of them can be seen at the U.S. website Occupational Safety & Health Administration currently found here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=12716 .

Folks in Canada can visit the following site an acquire the publication: http://www.ccohs.ca/products/csa/27010552013%20.

Regardless of where you get your information, your general purpose air compressor should not be used to supply air for breathing purposes. The result of so doing could be deadly.

Comments

  1. david brown says:

    we have an oil compressor at work which feeds all the tools, there is a air line comes off to supply air for the sandblast area and the breathing mask , is this ok?

    • David, absolutely NOT! Breathing air requires the proper air preparation according to the local health standards. If you breathe air directly from a commercial compressor, it’s quite likely you will die!

  2. Bryan Daniel says:

    I thank you and my lungs thank you for creating this page. I was just thinking about using my compressor for a supplied air mask to protect myself more from a Dusty environment. I just had surgery on my sinuses and they’re currently infected due to drywall dust, no need to compound things.

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