Pulmonary and Circulatory Adjustments Determining the Limits of Depths in Breathhold Diving

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Science  29 Nov 1968:
Vol. 162, Issue 3857, pp. 1020-1023
DOI: 10.1126/science.162.3857.1020


Data on pulmonary gas exchange were collected in breathhold dives to 90 feet in a tank and in open-sea breathhold dives to depths of 217.5 and 225 feet. Thoracic blood volume displacements were measured at depths of 25, 50, 90, and 130 feet, by use of the impedance plethysmograph. The open-sea dives were carried out with an average speed of descent of 3.95 feet per second and an average rate of ascent of 3.50 feet per second. End-dive alveolar oxygen tensions did not fall below 36 millimeters of mercury, while alveolar carbon dioxide tension did not rise above 40 millimeters of mercury except in one case. These findings indicate that for diver Croft, who has unusual lung capacity, neither hypoxia nor hypercapnia determined the depth limits under those conditions. At depths of 90 and 130 feet blood was forced into the thorax, amounting to 1047 and 850 milliliters respectively.

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