In diving terms Enriched Air Nitrox indicates a nitrogen and oxygen mixture. Having higher oxygen levels than the usual 21% found in natural air. You can easily spot a nitrox cylinder with its green and yellow band. Which usually has the mix percentage of nitrox and oxygen written on the tank.
It is this high percentage of oxygen and low percentage of nitrogen that allows divers to elongate no-decompression limits, lessen surface intervals and an added security for decompression sickness in some diving situations.
We all learnt through our certifications that water pressure makes nitrogen get absorbed into the bloodstream when you dive. When there is higher pressure the more the nitrogen gets dissolved. It is important to remember that when nitrogen reaches certain levels, you must start to prepare to go back up to the surface slowly, so as to avoid two things:
- mandatory decompression stops
- or a bad case of decompression sickness
There is another way to go about it however, and this is called Equivalent Air Depth (EAD). This is when you replace some of the Nitrogen with more levels of Oxygen. Having obviously less Nitrogen means that it will not be absorbed into the bloodstream as quickly, leaving you with a longer no-decompression limit….and more time underwater.
Be careful, however beneficial this might be – breathing in high concentrations of oxygen has its own downfall. This could lead to oxygen toxicity, which can cause distortion to your vision or seizures which can possibly lead to drowning.
Dive centres usually have the right mix, which is usually about 32%. This makes everything a little less complicated. This way your chosen dive centre can just adjust the mix to your own dive plan respectively.
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