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Classes of Explosive Atmospheres –

EU Classification
An understanding of this classification is required because often motors and other
electrical equipment are required to be installed in these hazardous or explosive
atmospheres. A clear understanding of the classes of explosive atmospheres will help
in the selection and specification of electrical equipment in such environment.

Classes of Explosive Atmospheres


The EU (European Union) ATEX directive 99/92/EC distinguishes between two types of
explosive atmospheres: GAS and DUST. Areas subjected to these two kinds of
explosive atmospheres are each divided into three zones. Each zone characteristics
are identical for gas and dust, but their numbering is different. Zones 0, 1, 2 refer to
gas and zones 20, 21, 22 refer to dust.

The various classes of explosive atmospheres are listed below


with a description of the characteristics of each one of them including the level of
danger present and what category of equipment are required to be installed in such
explosive atmospheres.

Level of Type of
Zone
Description Danger to Equipment
s
User Required
Permanent presence of explosive gasses or combustible dust. Constant
0/20 Category 1
Minimum category 1 equipment required for use Danger
Occasional presence of explosive gasses or combustible dust during Potential
1/21 Category 2
normal duty. Minimum category 2 equipment required for use Danger
Presence of explosive gasses or combustible dust not likely to occur
2/22 or only for a shorter period of time. Minimum category 3 equipment Minor Danger Category 3
required for use

A category 1 equipment is an equipment that can safely work in a zone 0 or 20


explosive atmosphere.
A category 2 equipment is an equipment that can safely work in a zone 1 or 21
explosive atmosphere.
A category 3 equipment is an equipment that can safely work in a zone 2 or 22
explosive atmosphere.

The EU classification of hazardous or explosives atmosphere is somewhat different


from the North America classification but the zones (EU) and class (North America)
categorization have similar characteristics. See Hazardous Area Classification