Oxygen toxicity

Oxygen toxicity in scuba diving refers to the adverse effects that can occur when a diver is exposed to elevated levels of oxygen for an extended period. The main concern is with partial pressure of oxygen (PPO2), which increases with the depth and the concentration of oxygen in the breathing gas.

Two types of oxygen toxicity are relevant to diving: central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity and pulmonary oxygen toxicity. CNS oxygen toxicity can result in symptoms such as seizures, nausea, dizziness, or loss of consciousness. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity primarily affects the lungs and can lead to inflammation and respiratory issues.

To mitigate the risk of oxygen toxicity, divers adhere to established oxygen exposure limits, expressed as maximum PPO2 values, during various phases of the dive. These limits vary depending on factors such as the diver’s depth, the duration of exposure, and whether the dive involves decompression.

Divers receive specific training to manage and monitor oxygen exposure, and the use of dive tables or computers helps in planning dives within safe parameters. Maintaining proper control over oxygen levels is crucial for diver safety and the prevention of oxygen toxicity incidents.