Psychophysiological reactions in humans during an open sea dive to 500 m with a hydrogen-helium-oxygen mixture

J. H. Abraini, M. C. Gardette-Chauffour, E. Martinez, J. C. Rostain, C. Lemaire

Abstract

Six commercial divers were investigated for neurological and psychosensorimotor responses during an open sea dive to 500 m with a hydrogen-helium-oxygen mixture containing 49% hydrogen. Results showed only moderate neurological symptoms of high-pressure nervous syndrome, whereas the narcotic effect of hydrogen was detectable, as investigated by psychosensorimotor tests. Nevertheless, the divers successfully carried out the main purpose of the operational dive, which was to prove the feasability of such diving methods by connecting specific elements of an offshore oil installation. Finally, these data support the hypothesis that hydrogen can alleviate some of the symptoms of the high-pressure nervous syndrome and can constitute a useful gas for commercial diving, as it decreases the density of the breathing mixture and therefore improves the living conditions, work, and comfort of the divers. Nevertheless, the present results underscore the relevance of research on individual susceptibility to pressure environment regardless of the composition of the breathing mixture.