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treatment facilities. Sometimes 100 percent oxygen is used in shallow diving operations and certain phases of mixed-gas diving operations. However, breathing pure oxygen under pressure may induce the serious problems of oxygen toxicity.

2-10.3 Nitrogen. Like oxygen, nitrogen (N2) is diatomic, colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and is a component of all living organisms. Unlike oxygen, it will not support life or aid combustion and it does not combine easily with other elements. Nitrogen in the air is inert in the free state. For diving, nitrogen may be used to dilute oxygen. Nitrogen is not the only gas that can be used for this purpose and under some conditions it has severe disadvantages as compared to other gases. Nitrogen narcosis, a disorder resulting from the anesthetic properties of nitrogen breathed under pressure, can result in a loss of orientation and judgment by the diver. For this reason, compressed air, with its high nitrogen content, is not used below a specified depth in diving operations.

2-10.4 Helium. Helium (He) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, but it is mona-tomic (exists as a single atom in its free state). It is totally inert. Helium is a rare element, found in air only as a trace element of about 5 parts per million (ppm). Helium coexists with natural gas in certain wells in the southwestern United States, Canada, and Russia. These wells provide the world's supply. When used in diving to dilute oxygen in the breathing mixture, helium does not cause the same problems associated with nitrogen narcosis, but it does have unique disadvantages. Among these is the distortion of speech which takes place in a helium atmosphere. The "Donald Duck" effect is caused by the acoustic properties of helium and it impairs voice communications in deep diving. Another negative characteristic of helium is its high thermal conductivity which can cause rapid loss of body and respiratory heat.

2-10.5 Hydrogen. Hydrogen (H2) is diatomic, colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and is so active that it is rarely found in a free state on earth. It is, however, the most abundant element in the visible universe. The sun and stars are almost pure hydrogen. Pure hydrogen is violently explosive when mixed with air in proportions that include a presence of more than 5.3 percent oxygen. Hydrogen has been used in diving (replacing nitrogen for the same reasons as helium) but the hazards have limited this to little more than experimentation.

2-10.6 Neon. Neon (Ne) is inert, monatomic, colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and is found in minute quantities in the atmosphere. It is a heavy gas and does not exhibit the narcotic properties of nitrogen when used as a breathing medium. Because it does not cause the speech distortion problem associated with helium and has superior thermal insulating properties, it has been the subject of some experimental diving research.

2-10.7 Carbon Dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is colorless, odorless, and tasteless when found in small percentages in the air. In greater concentrations it has an acid taste and odor. Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of animal and human respiration, and is formed by the oxidation of carbon in food to produce energy. For divers, the two major concerns with carbon dioxide are control of the quantity in the breathing supply and removal of the exhaust after breathing. While some carbon dioxide is essential, unconsciousness can result when it is breathed at increased partial pressure. In high concentrations the gas can be extremely toxic. In the case of closed and semiclosed breathing apparatus, the removal of excess carbon dioxide generated by breathing is essential to safety.

2-10.8 Carbon Monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas whose presence is difficult to detect. Carbon monoxide is formed as a product of incomplete fuel combustion, and is most commonly found in the exhaust of internal combustion engines. A diver's air supply can be contaminated by carbon monoxide when the compressor intake is placed too close to the compressor's engine exhaust. The exhaust gases are sucked in with the air and sent on to the diver, with potentially disastrous results. Carbon monoxide seriously interferes with the blood's ability to carry the oxygen required for the body to function normally. The affinity of carbon monoxide for hemoglobin is approximately 210 times that of oxygen. Carbon monoxide dissociates from hemoglobin at a much slower rate than oxygen.

2-10.9 Kinetic Theory of Gases. On the surface of the earth the constancy of the atmosphere's pressure and composition tend to be accepted without concern. To the diver, however, the nature of the high pressure or hyperbaric, gaseous environment assumes great importance. The basic explanation of the behavior of gases under all variations of temperature and pressure is known as the kinetic theory of gases.

The kinetic theory of gases states: "The kinetic energy of any gas at a given temperature is the same as the kinetic energy of any other gas at the same temperature." Consequently, the measurable pressures of all gases resulting from kinetic activity are affected by the same factors.

The kinetic energy of a gas is related to the speed at which the molecules are moving and the mass of the gas. Speed is a function of temperature and mass is a function of gas type. At a given temperature, molecules of heavier gases move at a slower speed than those of lighter gases, but their combination of mass and speed results in the same kinetic energy level and impact force. The measured impact force, or pressure, is representative of the kinetic energy of the gas. This is illustrated in Figure 2-6.

Figure 2-6. Kinetic Energy. The kinetic energy of the molecules inside the container (a) produces a constant pressure on the internal surfaces. As the container volume is decreased (b), the molecules per unit volume (density) increase and so does the pressure. As the energy level of the molecules increases from the addition of thermal energy (heat), so does the pressure (c).

Figure 2-6. Kinetic Energy. The kinetic energy of the molecules inside the container (a) produces a constant pressure on the internal surfaces. As the container volume is decreased (b), the molecules per unit volume (density) increase and so does the pressure. As the energy level of the molecules increases from the addition of thermal energy (heat), so does the pressure (c).

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