The general objective of the Directive is to eliminate or at least minimize the risks resulting from the use of certain products in or in relation to a potentially explosive atmosphere, i.e. an atmosphere, which could become explosive due to local and/or operational conditions. In particular, an explosive atmosphere for the purposes of ATEX Directive 94/9/EC is defined as a: Mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapors, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.
To be within the scope of the ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, a product has to be:
- An equipment, as defined in Article 1.3.(a) of the Directive : machines, apparatus, fixed or mobile devices, control components and instrumentation thereof and detection or prevention systems which, separately or jointly, are intended for the generation, transfer, storage, measurement, control and conversion of energy and/or the processing of material and which are capable of causing an explosion through their own potential sources of ignition; or
- A protective system, as defined in Article 1.3.(b) of the Directive : devices other than components of the equipment defined above which are intended to halt incipient explosions immediately and/or to limit the effective range of an explosion and which are separately placed on the market for use as autonomous systems; or
- A component, as defined in Article 1.3.(c) of the Directive : any item essential to the safe functioning of equipment and protective systems but with no autonomous function; or
- A safety, controlling or regulating device as defined in Article 1.2. of the Directive : (…) intended for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres but required for or contributing to the safe functioning of equipment and protective systems with respect to the risks of explosion (…).
In addition, a product within the scope of ATEX directive may fall as well within the scope of other directives, which have to be applied in parallel. This may be the case of the following Directives: EMC (2004/108/EC), LVD (2006/95/EC), MSD (98/37/EC), PPE (89/686/EC), PED (97/23/EC) and CPD (89/106/EC).
As per article 1.4 of the Directive the following equipment are not within the scope of the Directive:
- Medical devices intended for use in a medical environment;
- Equipment and protective systems where the explosion hazard results exclusively from the presence of explosive substances or unstable chemical substances;
- Equipment intended for use in domestic and non-commercial environments where potentially explosive atmospheres may only rarely be created, solely as a result of the accidental leakage of fuel gas;
- Personal protective equipment covered by Directive 89/686/EEC;
- Seagoing vessels and mobile offshore units together with equipment on board such vessels or units;
- Means of transport i.e. vehicles and their trailers intended solely for transporting passengers by air, road, rail or water networks, as well as means of transport in so far as such means are designed for transporting goods by air, by public road or rail networks or by water. Means of transport intended for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere are not excluded;
- Equipment covered by Article 346 (1)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), i.e. designed and manufactured specifically for use by the armed forces or in the maintenance of law and order.