Enriched Air Nitrox, known otherwise as EANx or just Nitrox is a treasure chest filled with time!
In Diving terminology, Nitrox is breathing air that contains more than 21% of oxygen and less than 78% of nitrogen. We use Nitrox when we dive to safely extend our bottom time.
Under pressure, our bodies absorb nitrogen from every breath of air we take. By reducing the amount of nitrogen in the mix we breathe, our exposure to nitrogen per breath is much lesser. Therefore we can spend a lot more time at a given depth before we reach the exposure limit.
The Good, the Bad, and the plain Awesome
Nitrox is the result of divers’ quest for more time underwater. Divers prefer using Nitrox because it lets them spend more time at depth. Because our exposure to nitrogen is lower, time spent waiting on the surface for the next dive is reduced.
There’s an even greater reduction in the risk of getting Decompression Sickness (DCS). Therefore, it’s highly valuable to those who are more susceptible to it. Individuals who are older, overweight, injured, fatigued, or have dealt with DCS in the past are predisposed to suffering from it.
Remember that Nitrox neither improves your air consumption nor does it give you immunity to DCS. Always check your gauges, monitor your depth, and stick to your limits just as you would on any other dive with regular air.
The myth that Nitrox lets you dive deeper is a dangerous misconception. The problem comes from the fact that oxygen, while vital, can become toxic at high partial pressures. It’s a classic case of too much of a good thing. Too much oxygen at pressure attacks the central nervous system, causing convulsions or seizures, visual distortions, ringing ears, nausea, twitching, irritability, and dizziness.
Every blend of Nitrox has its own Maximum Operating Depth (MOD). This is the limit at which the partial pressure of oxygen reaches 1.4 bar. This limit incorporates a safety margin as well. For when the partial pressure reaches 1.6 bar, your body starts to react as mentioned above.
Just like your dive computer or your knife, Nitrox is a tool. And when used properly, it helps make scuba diving safer and a lot more fun!
What’s in the Course?
The Enriched Air Diver course covers the understanding and usage of Nitrox. It includes managing oxygen exposure and the dangers associated with it. Furthermore, you learn about Nitrox compatible equipment and the corresponding gear markings. You also analyze your tanks with an oxygen analyzer to check what mix it contains so you can use it to plan your dives. Taking in to account the oxygen content, you can plan your dives using Nitrox tables or a compatible dive computer.
Once you’re well versed on the benefits and potential drawbacks of Nitrox, you can use it to make the most out of each and every dive by spending more time beneath the waves and less time waiting to get back in the water between dives!