This is a pretty simple question, but initial research only seems to provide the opposite end of the spectrum. What I'm wondering is if there are any known side effects of living in an environment with an increased amount of air pressure.

Say, for instance, humans colonized an Earthlike planet which had twice the air pressure at sea level than we have here (disregard whether or not this is possible, that may be a subject for a separate question), or say humans wanted to build an underwater facility and decided to save money by equalizing indoor with outdoor pressures.

I know there are limits to how much you can compress a gas, but I assume humans wouldn't feel too good as they approached those limits. My question is what pressures would cause problems for humans, and what would those pressures/problems be?

Assume any pressure would be achieved gradually, so no worries about explosive compression or anything like that.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds familiar. I find this $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz I don't think mine is a dupe, but there is some valuable information in the answers to that question, so thanks for bringing it up. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


Don't breath pure oxygen and they will be okay

How "deep" a human can descend into a high compression atmosphere will depend completely on the gas mixture of that atmosphere. Diving gas composition is a well understood science on earth and offers information on how a human would adapt/survive in a high pressure atmosphere.

Oxygen toxicity is real and it can kill you. High pressure oxygen is more reactive than usual leading to the creation of free radicals that damage cell structures.

Nitrogen poisoning mimics the effects of alcohol on a person's nervous system.

Despite the dangers associated with high compression atmospheres, there are significant therapeutic effects to be had (if carefully managed). Hyperbaric chambers are currently used for treatment of diabetic and radiation injuries; wounds that typically have great difficulty healing.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Twice atmospheric pressure is not at all deep by diving standards. If two atmospheres with lower oxygen percentage there's probably no problem, but do we have any data for the really long term? (Decades, a lifetime)? $\endgroup$
    – nigel222
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yea, that's just under the surface chop, where it becomes easy to stay put. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 19:09

Effect of entering an atmosphere of 1 Bar is that gases dissolved in the body will increase and eventually be double the amount of gases dissolved at atmospheric pressure. This change occurs without any discomfort to the man provided the increase in pressure is not too sudden and present no problem until he returns to atmospheric condition when the pressurized gases in the body expand and seek to escape.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Uhh... atmospheric pressure on Earth is 1 bar? $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 10:41

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