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Henry's law and divers

William Henry, around 1800 found out and stated that there is a proportional equivalence between the mass of a gas which dissolves in a volume of liquid and the pressure of the gas. Or, we could say that a gas mass dissolving in a volume of liquid will be proportional to the pressure of the gas.

Henry's law is usually expressed in an equation which says that P = KC. In this equation, P is the partial pressure of the gas, K is the constant, and C is the concentration of the gas. This way, the partial pressure of a gas is equal to the constant of the concentration of it.

Due to the fact that Henry's law involves and explains how gases behave with volumes of liquids, it has a great importance for the activity of diving and those who practice it. This law explains some of the facts and aspects which divers will find while practice the sport as well as it allows them to prevent some effects which this co relation of gases and liquids might provoke.

According to Henry's law, at the higher pressure a diver exposes his body, the more gasses it will absorb. This can cause the diver different problems based on the absorption of a high amount of a specific gas. For example, a diver's body could absorb more nitrogen than it should through its tissues and blood and cause him a nitrogen narcosis due to it. The same can happen with any other gases he might be exposed to with a variation in the consequences which might depend on what kind of gas it is and how would it affect the human organism.

This law explains why decompression illness happens when divers go into depths below 120 feet. While in shallow depths the diver's body can handle the pressure and gas absorption without many problems, in deep water his body would suffer decompression illness unless he has prevented it. If a diver foresees the dangers he might find when diving into deep waters and follows the proper indications, he can prevent these consequences and safely enjoy his diving activities.

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