Problem: Scuba divers breathing air at increased pressure can suffer from nitrogen narcosis - a condition resembling drunkenness - when the partial pressure of nitrogen exceeds about 4 atm. What property of gas/water solutions causes this to happen? How could the diver reverse this effect?

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We have to explain what property of the gas/water solutions causes the nitrogen narcosis in scuba divers and how it can be avoided.


Nitrogen narcosis happens when the partial pressure of nitrogen gas exceeds 4 atm.

Recall the Henry’s law that the solubility of a gas in solution is directly proportional to it partial pressure.

S = kH·P

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Scuba divers breathing air at increased pressure can suffer from nitrogen narcosis - a condition resembling drunkenness - when the partial pressure of nitrogen exceeds about 4 atm. What property of gas/water solutions causes this to happen? How could the diver reverse this effect?

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