Nitrox diving is a type of recreational diving that utilizes a higher percentage of oxygen and thus a lower percentage of nitrogen as a breathing gas. Since this ratio closely mimics the air that is found on Earth, it generally allows divers to extend their bottom time and/or shorten surface intervals.
In order to avoid negative effects from an excess of nitrogen, divers must ascend slowly and make decompression stops. They must also follow the recommended surface intervals before completing another dive. When taking the proper precautions, nitrox diving offers many benefits to divers, allowing them to dive for longer intervals and with less side effects.
Nitrogen is an inert gas that is absorbed by the body during a dive. Reducing the percentage of nitrogen in the breathing gas reduces the amount of nitrogen absorbed and the decompression requirements. The benefits of recreational nitrox diving is that divers can spend more time underwater and less time on decompression stops and surface intervals. Happily, many sport divers have found that they also have less fatigue when nitrox diving.
Although there are many advantages to nitrox diving, there are also added obstacles. Since the nitrox has more oxygen in it, it’s possible that a diver can suffer oxygen toxicity. In fact, at certain levels, oxygen is toxic and requires divers to be cautious with depth limitations.
Furthermore, high levels of oxygen in the gas mix also increases flammability. To avoid this, divers must handle and clean nitrox tanks, regulators and valves with extreme care to avoid explosions.
Nitrox diving can be advantageous to the diver but he/she must be aware of the potential drawbacks of enhanced nitrogen and oxygen mixes, and be familiar with the common misconception that nitrox diving allows divers to go deeper. In truth, the deeper the water, the higher the oxygen levels. The use of nitrox requires strict adherence to maximum depth limits.
Every dive carries its risk, which is why it’s important to have a dive lawyer such as Delise and Hall on your side. Specializing in recreational and commercial diving, these lawyers know the rights of technical and public safety diving and related injuries.