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July 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Decompression Stops: What We Donít Know

itís still an imprecise science

from the July, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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If you want to know precisely how long and how deep to make your decompression stop to absolutely avoid the bends, you'll be disappointed. Decompression theory is not exact, if for no other reason than there is no one exactly like you: your body is unique.

In 1908 John Scott Haldane observed that goats, saturated to depths of 165 feet of seawater, did not develop decompression sickness (DCS) if subsequent decompression was limited to half the ambient pressure. That is to say, he could safely bring them back to 60 feet deep without apparent symptoms. Goats were sacrificed for decompression studies for several more decades, and the military used human volunteers in tightly controlled studies, presumably without harm. After all, it would be unethical to intentionally give humans DCS....

Everyone has a different and individual tolerance for DCS.

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