Pulmonary effects of submerged oxygen breathing: 4-, 6-, and 8-hour dives at 140 kPa

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2005 Sep-Oct;32(5):351-61.


Elevated inspired oxygen partial pressures (PO2) may cause pulmonary oxygen toxicity (PO2T). However, normal variability and water immersion also cause pulmonary function (PF) changes. In 21 subjects, we measured the variability of flow-volume parameters and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) for six weeks without diving. In 24 divers, we compared the effects of air (P(I)O2 = 0.3 atm = 30 kPa) and oxygen (P(I)O2 = 1.4 atm = 140 kPa) during paired resting dives of 4, 6, or 8 hours in a freshwater pool 4.6 m deep. Without diving, median coefficients of variation (CV) were: vital capacity, 3.2%; FEV1, 3.5%; peak flow, 7.0%; and DLCO, 5.9%. Measurements within 2.4.CV of baseline were considered unchanged. After 4-, 6-, and 8- hour air dives, PF decreased in one, one, and four subjects, respectively, and three, one, and two, respectively, reported symptoms. After the oxygen dives, PF decreased in two, three, and four subjects, respectively, and two, four, and seven, respectively, reported symptoms. PO2T persisted for several days after 8-hour oxygen dives.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Partial Pressure
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate / physiology
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity / physiology
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Time Factors
  • Vital Capacity / physiology*


  • Oxygen