Oxygen-enriched air reduces breathing gas consumption over air

Jochen Schipke, Andreas Deussen, Fabian Möller, Uwe Hoffmann, Thomas Muth, Andre Zenske, Andreas Koch

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearch


Owing to the unfamiliar environment, recreational and professional diving is confronted with several challenges. Usage of self-contained under-water breathing apparatuses during the dive provides the indispensable breathing gas supply for the diver. Instead of air, oxygen-enriched breathing gases (EANx or nitrox) are used with increasing frequency. Unfortunately, their usage implies negative effects because the elevated oxygen partial pressure (pO2) increases oxidative stress. As a result, the increased formation of reactive oxygen species exerts negative effects on the central nervous system, lungs, vasculature and eyes. However, these disadvantages can be avoided if appropriate rules are followed, e.g. a pO2<1.4 bar. EANx breathing gases have, on the other hand, major advantages as they help reducing narcotic nitrogen effects and bubble formation. Several land-based studies had proven a reduced ventilation of exercising subjects if EANx was used instead of air. As breathing gas is the most valuable under-water good, we wanted to translate the on-land results into under-water results. Appropriate studies now demonstrate a novel EANx property as under-water ventilation is also reduced with EANx. In this short communication, we present this additional advantage of EANx-breathing. This benefit seems to be of particular importance as it delays unforeseen running-out-of-gas and thus, contributes to further improving diving safety.
Original languageGerman
JournalCurrent Research in Physiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 30.01.2022