Scuba Diving

ENRICHED AIR DIVER SPECIALTY

- BY TRAVIS MARSHALL

What if there were a way to get more bottom time while reducing your risk of getting decompress­ion sickness on most dives? That sounds like something every diver would want, so it’s no surprise that PADI’s Enriched Air Diver (also called nitrox) is the most popular specialty course among divers the world over. “Nitrox certificat­ions make up about 70 percent of all the courses we teach,” says Jay Roberts, operations manager for the Aggressor Adventures fleet of liveaboard­s. “And I’d say around 90 percent of divers on our boats use nitrox.”

BENEFITS

Enriched air nitrox is a mixed gas available at most dive centers around the world. It’s made by blending pure oxygen with the air in a dive tank. An example of a common nitrox blend is 32 percent oxygen—the air we breathe at the surface has about 21 percent.

Increasing the amount of oxygen reduces the amount of nitrogen you breathe. Since nitrogen absorbed by your body is the issue in reducing DCS risk, less nitrogen means longer no-stop times and longer dives within the depth limits for your

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