Lung function in military oxygen divers: a longitudinal study

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2005 Oct;76(10):974-7.


It is increasingly recognized that professional diving may elicit adverse long-term effects on the lungs, but conflicting results have been reported from distinct diving cohorts. This study reports the longitudinal change in lung function in professional divers who employ closed-circuit oxygen rebreathing apparatuses. All oxygen divers who attended the German Naval Medical Institute between 1994 and 1999 for regular medicals underwent spirometry and were entered if they had at least two follow-up examinations. Forced expiratory flows and volumes at baseline and at maximum follow up were compared. There were 39 divers who presented at least 3 times during a median period of 5.8 (2.7-8) yr. Forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) amounted to 4.86 +/- 0.62 L and 5.89 +/- 0.67 L at baseline, and 4.83 +/- 0.64 L and 5.87 +/- 0.69 L at maximum follow up, respectively. The change over time was statistically not significant. Substantial exposure to elevated oxygen partial pressure while diving is not associated with an accelerated decline in lung function. Factors other than hyperoxia (e.g., venous gas microemboli and altered breathing gas characteristics) may account for the long-term effects that have been found in professional divers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Partial Pressure
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Oxygen