Myths and truths about diving on Nitrox
You may have heard recreational scuba divers talking positively about diving on air enriched with NITROX. Some of the advantages that are frequently highlighted about scuba diving on NITROX are rather more myths than truths.
These are some of the half-truths or partial truths that are bandied about the use of NITROX for scuba diving.
• “When you are on NITROX, your air consumption is less, and the dive is longer.”
This is utterly WRONG. It is not even a half-truth, but rather a “whole lie”. As we know, air consumption depends on several factors: mainly on how deep we dive, and then on the way we use our BCD, how big our lungs are, etc. None of these factors have anything to do with O2 percentage contained in the mix. Our air consumption will be the same regardless of whether the O2 percentage in the mix is 21% (air concentration) or higher (Enriched Air Nitrox EANx).
Therefore, if your air consumption is not altered by using EANx instead of air, the duration of the dive will not become longer by the sheer fact of using EANx instead of air. An altogether different matter is that you may extend the duration of your dive AT A GIVEN DEPTH, because of a lower concentration of N2 in an EANx mix, as your tissues will absorb a lower amount of this gas.
• “When you are on NITROX, you feel less tired”
This may be truly reckoned as a “half-truth”. The reason behind is based on the physiological effect of weariness we feel when N2 accumulates in our body tissues. When we are diving on EANx, we breathe a mix with a lower percentage of N2 than contained in air. Our tissues will absorb a lower amount of it, which (possibly) would give a lower feeling of weariness that we would have got, if we had breath air. This is especially the case when we are practicing successive dives.
• “Diving on NITROX is safer than diving on air.”
This is again another example of a “myth and truth” of diving on NITROX. Safety in diving requires following strictly the procedures established as standards. This applies both when you dive on air or on NITROX. The last one has its own safety procedures, which are dully explained in the PADI Enriched Air Diver course. These procedures must be strictly followed to stay within the safety limits. You have to keep in mind that decompression sickness may occur if you go beyond the no-decompression limits. Besides, there is the risk of narcosis associated with depth, which should be added to the depth restriction posed by 02 toxicity.
If you are not a NITROX diver, you may take Enriched Air Diver course with us.