## Is Contaminated Compressed Air Bad for Scuba Diving?

Compressed air is the most common breathing gas used in scuba diving. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to obtain, and provides a good level of safety. However, compressed air can also be contaminated with a variety of pollutants, which can have a negative impact on the health of divers.

### Types of Contaminants

The most common contaminants found in compressed air include:

Carbon monoxide: A colorless, odorless gas that can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and even death.
Carbon dioxide: A colorless, odorless gas that can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and headaches.
Nitrogen: A colorless, odorless gas that can cause decompression sickness (DCS) if it is breathed at high pressures for extended periods of time.
Oil: A liquid that can irritate the lungs and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Water: A liquid that can cause waterlogging of the lungs and lead to drowning.

### Effects of Contamination

The effects of breathing contaminated compressed air can vary depending on the type of contaminant, the concentration of the contaminant, and the length of time that the diver is exposed to the contaminant.

Carbon monoxide can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and even death. In high concentrations, carbon monoxide can cause unconsciousness and death within minutes.

Carbon dioxide can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and headaches. In high concentrations, carbon dioxide can cause unconsciousness and death.

Nitrogen can cause decompression sickness (DCS) if it is breathed at high pressures for extended periods of time. DCS is a serious condition that can cause pain, paralysis, and even death.

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Oil can irritate the lungs and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, oil can lead to pneumonia.

Water can cause waterlogging of the lungs and lead to drowning. Waterlogging of the lungs is a serious condition that can be fatal.

### How to Avoid Contamination

There are a number of things that divers can do to avoid breathing contaminated compressed air:

Use a reputable dive shop. Dive shops that are reputable will have their compressed air tested regularly to ensure that it meets the required safety standards.
Inspect your dive gear before each dive. Check your regulator, hoses, and BCD for any signs of wear or damage. If you find any damage, do not use the gear until it has been repaired.
Do not dive with an empty tank. When you dive with an empty tank, you are more likely to breathe in contaminated air from the regulator.
Take breaks during your dive. Taking breaks will give your body time to clear out any contaminants that you have breathed in.
Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to keep your lungs hydrated and reduce the risk of waterlogging.

### Conclusion

Breathing contaminated compressed air can have a negative impact on the health of divers. By following the tips above, divers can help to avoid breathing contaminated air and reduce their risk of injury or illness.

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