In your research into Nitrox, you may have heard that there are fire and explosion risks when you use gas mixtures that have oxygen levels greater than what is present in the air (higher than 21 percent).
Certainly, gas mixtures containing 41 percent or more oxygen are susceptible to fire and explosion if improperly handled. When high-pressure oxygen comes into contact with hydrocarbons, such as oil, the potential for fire and explosion is very real. Oxygen fueled fires are swift to spread, usually difficult to extinguish and often result in tragic loss of property and sometimes lives.
However, the mixtures you will encounter as an SDI Nitrox diver will contain 40 percent or less oxygen and are not considered at risk.
That said, some diving equipment manufacturers insist that your equipment must be specially cleaned for oxygen service and use oxygen compatible seals and components if it is used for anything but air. If you buy this type of equipment you must comply with the manufacturer’s conditions or the warranty on your equipment may be void.
Oxygen cleaning must be performed by a trained technician in a clean environment, using cleaning agents and replacement components that have been deemed “safe” for this application.
If your gear is designed for oxygen service, such as a tank or regulator, and it is used with systems that are not oxygen clean, the gear must be considered contaminated and may not be used with Nitrox mixtures until it has been cleaned again. For this reason, if you loan your Nitrox compatible diving gear to another Nitrox diver, you must be sure that they understand that they can only use it with gases and systems that are oxygen clean.
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