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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2002 June;55(2):137-40

language: Italian

Assessment of the oxygen aqualung used by naval commandos as a function of the intensity of underwater swimming

Ricciardi L. 1, Cuciz M. 1, Gagliardi R. 1, FAralli F. 2, Panico S. 2, Bertonati C. 1, Desideri E. 1, Mloni G. 2, Monita S. 1, Martina M. 3, Sardella F. 4

1 Ufficio Studi, Comsubin, Marina Militare, Varignano, Le Grazie (SP);
2 Servizio Sanitario, Comsubin, Marina Militare, Varignano, Le Grazie (SP);
3 Istituto Allestimento Navale, Mariperman, Marina Militare, La Spezia;
4 Dipartimento di Fisiologia e Biomeccanica, Istituto di Scienze dello Sport, CONI, Roma


The ­range and abil­ity to fix CO2 of ­soda ­lime ­employed in the oxy­gen aqua­lungs ­used by Naval com­man­dos (n=20) ­have ­been ­assessed as a func­tion of dif­fer­ent under­wa­ter swim­ming ­speeds. A fic­ti­tious and ­very low val­ue was set for the thresh­old con­cen­tra­tion of CO2 of 5000 ppm (0.5%) and meas­ure­ments ­were tak­en of the ­time tak­en to ­reach ­this val­ue depend­ing on ­what activ­ity was ­being car­ried out. It is ­well-­know ­that inspir­a­to­ry con­cen­tra­tions of up to 1.5% can be tol­er­at­ed for ­days at a ­time. The ­initial ­stage of the ­study includ­ed sim­u­la­tion of ven­ti­la­tion by ­means of a ­pump ­which intro­duced a ­flow of ­pure CO2 (1.5 l min-1) ­into the ­soda ­lime cap­sule; the thresh­old was ­reached on aver­age in 2 hrs 15 min. Thereafter a num­ber of oper­a­tors (n=3) ­were stud­ied dur­ing swim­ming in a ­pool ­against the cur­rent at a ­speed ­while at the high­er the sub­ject com­plet­ed the ­test in 30 min ­owing to mus­cu­lar exhaus­tion, with­out reach­ing it; 2.4 ­knots is, how­ev­er, a ­speed ­that is rare­ly ­reached. Having pro­longed the ­test, ­after 3 hrs 15 min swim­ming the con­cen­tra­tion val­ue of CO2 was 0.8%. A ­third ­test ­stage in the ­open sea (n=14) high­light­ed ­that ­after 4 hrs 30 min swim­ming under­wa­ter the con­cen­tra­tion was ­still tol­er­able at ­around 1.5%. Further, at the end of two under­wa­ter ­swims, of respec­tive­ly 3000 and 5000 m, the ­soda ­lime capac­ity was ­still ­such as to ­halve the con­cen­tra­tion at the end of the ­test in 5 min: in the ­first ­case at a val­ue of 0.03%, in the sec­ond 0.1%. No hyper­cap­nic symp­tom was report­ed. A num­ber of com­ments are ­made regard­ing CO. The ­paper clos­es by con­sid­er­ing pos­sible the pro­gram­ming of an oxy­gen immer­sion at con­stant ­speed ­with inter­vals of fast­er ­speeds ­once ­each sin­gle ­operator’s capac­ity “­curve” is ­known.

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