10 Contaminants Affecting Your Compressed Air System – Part Two

10 Contaminants Effecting Your Compressed Air System – Part Two - microorganism | Parker domnick hunter

Every once in awhile something can go wrong with your production process. Understanding why is essential to get the business back up and running. Part one focused on the sources of contamination and highlighted the potential danger fluid contaminants can cause.

In the second part of our blog series on the contaminants that can affect your compressed air system we look at the remaining impurities that weren’t discussed in part one and the recognised international standard that can help guide you to choose the right level of treatment for your industry.

Solid contamination

We have grouped the remaining four contaminants that effect a compressed air system by their solid mass. An object that retains its form when drawn in and released by the compressor.

Contaminant 7

  • Atmospheric DirtIn an industrial environment, every cubic metre of atmospheric air typically contains 140 million dirt particles. 80% of these particles are less than 2 microns in size and are too small to be captured by an intake filter, and therefore they pass directly into the compressor itself. Resulting in blockages further into the system, and potential spoilage of the final product.

Contaminant 8

  • Micro-organismsBacteria and viruses will also be drawn into the compressed air system through the compressor intake and warm, moist air provides an ideal environment for the growth of micro-organisms. Every cubic metre of ambient air can contain up to 100 million micro-organisms. And even if only a few of these enter a clean, sterile environment or production process, it can have a costly impact on product quality, and may even render a product entirely unfit for use and subject to recall.

Contaminants 9 and 10

  • Rust and Pipe scale: Rust and pipe scale can be found in air receivers and the piping of “wet systems” (systems without adequate purification equipment) or systems which were operated “wet” prior to purification equipment being installed. Over time, this contamination breaks away to cause damage or blockage in production equipment, which in turn can lead to problems in the final product and processes.

Complying with International Standards

There are three standards currently in use which directly relate to compressed air quality (purity) and testing developed by the International Standards Organisation (ISO), a network of the national standards institutes consisting of 159 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO is a non-governmental organisation that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors.

The standards set for compressed air purity are:

  • ISO8573 Series
  • ISO12500 Series
  • ISO7183 Series

The most commonly used standard for compressed air quality is the ISO8573 series and in particular ISO8573-1:2010.

ISO8573-1 lists the main contaminants as solid particulate, water and oil and instructs levels of purity with regards to these three criteria. Each class has been developed to guide specific industries that utilise compressed air in their processes.

10 Contaminants Effecting Your Compressed Air System – Part Two - ISO8573-1


Working Together

Parker works closely with the organisations ISO develops these standards with. We can help you to further understand how contamination can be controlled to an appropriate level for your industry and what treatment is necessary.



Dave SykesThis post was contributed by Dave Sykes, Marketing Communications Team Leader, Parker domnick hunter Filtration and Separation Division EMEA




Related content:

10 Contaminants Affecting Your Compressed Air System - Part One

Is the Compressed Air in Your Food Plant Safe?

Facts You Need to Know About Drying Compressed Air

What You Need to Know About Coalescing Filtration

Technologies for Drying Compressed Air: Aftercoolers and Coalescing Filters

The Importance of Using an Air Receiver Tank in a Compressed Air System


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