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Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Scuba Diving

We’ve all read the news; carbon monoxide injures and kills scuba divers seemingly every year.  Carbon Monoxide is a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of petroleum based fuels or overheating compressor lubricants. Of particular concern to a diver is the compressor motor used to fill your tank, the fumes given off by a dive boat’s engine or possible contamination near a dive shop’s compressor intake.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Affect You?
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin. Your hemoglobin’s main job is to attach itself to oxygen and give that oxygen a ride to the cells in your body. However, carbon monoxide is also easily absorbed by hemoglobin. As a matter of fact, your hemoglobin is about 200 times MORE interested to giving Carbon Monoxide a ride than Oxygen.

What this means for a scuba diver breathing from a contaminated tank is that the blood can quickly become saturated with carbon monoxide. This means oxygen does not get to the body’s tissues where it is needed to make the cells function correctly. The result is carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Scuba Diving
When a scuba diver is descending with CO contaminated air, the hemoglobin may be overloaded with carbon monoxide; however, the increased partial pressure of oxygen at depth may result in enough oxygen in the blood to keep the cells oxygenated.  In this situation the diver can function, but when they ascend to a shallower depth, the partial pressure of oxygen will decrease. This will lead to the tissues being starved of oxygen and unconsciousness and death can occur. This is a particularly insidious situation that is unique to scuba diving.

What Can You Do To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Diving?
Analox Sensor Technology now offers two solutions to protect divers:  The new CO Portable Carbon Monoxide Analyzer.  Perfect for the travelling diver, the new CO Portable is sufficiently compact to fit easily into your dive bag, and allows you to check each tank before you dive.    Also, be sure to ask your favourite dive shop or dive operator if their compressor is COClear.  Our COClear Compressor Monitor checks for CO contaminate and sound an alarm BEFORE contaminated air makes its way into your tank.

The new CO Portable is available at or call 877-SAFE-AIR (877-723-3247)

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