Preventing chamber atmosphere contamination by toxic gases is extremely important
to the health of the divers. Once introduced into the chambers, gaseous
contaminants are difficult to remove and may result in prolonged diver exposure.
Gaseous contaminants can be introduced into the
chamber through a contaminated gas supply, through chamber piping and/or gas
flasks containing residual lubricants or solvents, or by the divers or maintenance
The hazard of atmospheric contamination can be reduced by ensuring that only
gases that meet the appropriate federal specifications are used and that appropriate
gas transfer procedures are used. All gas flasks and chamber piping used with
helium, oxygen, or mixed gases shall be cleaned using approved cleaning procedures
to remove substances that may become chamber contaminants. Once
cleaned, care shall be taken to prevent introduction of contaminants back into
these systems during maintenance by marking and bagging openings into the
piping system. Finally, inadvertent chamber contamination can be prevented by
limiting the items that may be taken inside. Only approved paints, lubricants,
solvents, glues, equipment, and other materials known not to off-gas potential
toxic contaminants are allowed in the chamber. Strict control of all substances
entering the chamber is an essential element in preventing chamber contaminat
To ensure that chamber systems are
free of gaseous contaminants, the chamber atmosphere shall be screened for the
presence of the common contaminants found in hyperbaric systems when contamination
of the chamber and/or gas supply is suspected, or after any major chamber
repair or overhaul has been completed. Only NAVFAC- or NAVSEA-approved
procedures may be used to collect screening samples.
Table 15-5 lists a few selected contaminants that may be present in hyperbaric
complexes, with their 90-day continuous exposure limits (or 7-day limits where a
90-day limit is not available). In the absence of specific guidelines for hyperbaric
exposures, these limits shall be used as safe limits for saturation diving systems.
When any one of these contaminants is reported in chamber samples, the calculated
Surface Equivalent Value (SEV) shall be compared to the limit on this list. If
the calculated SEV exceeds this limit, the chamber shall be cleaned and retested.
Assistance with any contamination identification and resolution can be obtained
by contacting NEDU or the system certification authority for guidance.
TABLE 15-5 Limits for Selected Gaseous Contaminants in Saturation Diving Systems.