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I was recently reading an article which made the claim that doubling atmospheric pressure would cause gases to become toxic and make it impossible for human life. From the article:

double[ing] the earth’s atmospheric pressure... [would make] oxygen and nitrogen toxic to many animals, including humans.

Doubling atmospheric pressure doubles the blood’s oxygen content. Doubling the blood’s oxygen content, by any means, can produce a disease called retrolental fibroplasia in unborn or premature children. An opaque membrane forms behind the lens of the eye, resulting in blindness. This also occurs in mice and other species.

Increased ambient pressure also results in excess carbon dioxide in the blood. Oxygen and nitrogen toxicities increase significantly. The problem is aggravated at high work levels and for the elderly and ill.

I am interested in the veracity of this claim. What (if any) effect would be the long-term effect of doubling the pressure of the atmosphere to the human body. Would this cause things like Nitrogen Narcosis, Retinopathy of Prematurity in babies who were carried to term under these conditions, Hypercapnia, Acidosis, Cushings, Hyperaldosteronism etc?

Would this be therapeutic like being in a hyperbaric chamber?

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    I think it's because a doubling of atmospheric pressure doesn't exist on the surface of the earth, that this would be better suited on skeptics. I think when environmental factors were discussed, actual or probable environmental conditions where implied. – Atl LED Jan 13 '16 at 2:02
  • I am concerned that this question is calling for speculative calculations and original research. Please note these are not permitted on Skeptics.SE. You need to reference all of your claims. – Oddthinking Jan 13 '16 at 5:35
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    Doubling of atmospheric pressure is equivalent to compressed air SCUBA diving in a depth of 10M, there is no short term damage in those depths (but that changes when we're near 70M where both have toxic properties), these claim may have some merit for long term exposure, fetuses etc. they make some sense, but the effect is bound to be small, people live for long periods in much higher pressure, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturation_diving – Ofir Jan 13 '16 at 9:17
  • @Ofir: Is that an answer? – Oddthinking Jan 13 '16 at 12:15
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    Continued: nitrox... usually has a higher percentage of oxygen than air... This lets them stay underwater longer for the same decompression requirement as for air, because less nitrogen is absorbed into the body's tissues. The drawback to the higher oxygen content is that at higher than normal partial pressures, oxygen becomes toxic, so scuba divers generally limit their exposure to oxygen partial pressures of less than 1.6 bar But ultimately, I am wondering about the long-term effects of this pressure (different than diving) and the veracity of the claim. – James Shewey Jan 13 '16 at 16:17
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There is some merit to these claims, when discussing long term exposure, see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity#Eye_toxicity and the references therein, such as http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/xmlui/handle/123456789/2312, some of these effect were noted in hyperbaric chambers.

  • But also note that these fact do not make the originating website credible, or the claims it bases on these facts. – Ofir Jan 14 '16 at 10:19

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