The human body can withstand a certain amount of external pressure, but the exact limit varies depending on the specific conditions and the individual’s physical condition. The pressure experienced by the body is typically measured in atmospheres (ATM). One atmosphere is the pressure at sea level on Earth, which is approximately 101.3 kPa (kilopascals) or 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch).
Here are some examples of how the human body can withstand different levels of external pressure:
- Underwater Diving: Scuba divers and free divers can safely withstand increased external pressure as they descend into the water. For example, at a depth of 33 feet (10 meters), the pressure is about 2 atmospheres, and at 66 feet (20 meters), it’s around 3 atmospheres. Divers use appropriate equipment to manage the effects of pressure and prevent conditions like decompression sickness.
- Hyperbaric Chambers: In medical settings, hyperbaric chambers are used to expose the body to higher pressures. These chambers are pressurized to simulate the conditions experienced at different depths in the ocean. This treatment is used for various medical purposes, such as treating decompression sickness or promoting wound healing.
- Submersibles and Submarines: Submersibles and submarines are designed to withstand extreme external pressure as they descend to great depths in the ocean. They are constructed to protect occupants from the high pressures found in the deep sea.
- Space Travel: In space, the absence of atmospheric pressure can also pose challenges to the human body. Astronauts wear pressurized spacesuits to maintain a stable internal pressure in the vacuum of space.
While the human body can adapt to a range of pressures under specific conditions, there are limits. Extreme changes in pressure, especially rapid changes, can lead to various health risks. It’s crucial to follow safety protocols and use specialized equipment to manage the effects of pressure in environments like deep-sea diving and space travel.