Decompression chamber

Decompression chamber

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Credit: ALEXIS ROSENFELD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Decompression chamber. Man at the controls of a decompression chamber. The chamber itself is the cylinder at right. It is used to treat divers who have returned to the surface too quickly. They are placed in the chamber and the pressure increased to recreate the effects of the depth at which they were diving. The pressure is then slowly returned to normal, allowing respiratory gases, dissolved in their tissues under pressure, to slowly leave their bodies. Rapid decompression causes the gases to form bubbles that cause pain (the bends) and can kill by blocking the blood supply to the brain or heart. The decompression time depends upon the duration and depth of the dive. Photographed on the island of San Salvador, in the Bahamas.

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