There are few things more dangerous and unpredictable than gas under pressure, especially when a human being is present in the pressurized atmosphere.
During Britain’s industrial revolution the first pressure vessels were created and used as steam-producing boilers for steam engines. Featuring a new design and technology, the boilers were quickly put under government regulation after several explosions cost the lives of industrial workers. The first safety measures applied to these tanks were to encase them in high-resistance steel and to add a bleeder valve that gave off a high-pitched whistle when the pressure reached its breaking point—what we today know of as a steam whistle.
Today, all hyperbaric and pressure vessels on the public or private market are outfitted with variations of the same technology. The idea is to let the chamber leak out excess pressure before it bursts, creating a far less violent result. Today’s pressure vessels and hyperbaric chambers are designed to operate at a safe and specific pressure and temperature, known technically as the “design pressure” and the “design temperature.” Pressures and temperatures at which chambers operate are dictated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. In Europe, these standards are decided by the Pressure Equipment Directive of the EU, and in Japan the levels are controlled by Japanese Industrial Services.
In the United States, all hyperbaric chambers must be cleared by the FDA 510(k) – Part Four of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which outlines the standards which all Class 2 medical devices must adhere to.
Many monoplace and mild hyperbaric chambers are capable of running off a standard, 120-volt wall outlet, making them easy to use within a home or hospital setting. Larger, multiplace chambers may require their own power supply, as they tend to be larger and require more energy to properly pressurize and ventilate air.42