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Most breathing gases therefore are a mixture of oxygen and one or more inert gases.

Other breathing gases have been developed to improve on the performance of ordinary air by reducing the risk of decompression sickness, reducing the duration of decompression stops, reducing nitrogen narcosis or allowing safer deep diving.

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Helium is found in significant amounts only in natural gas, from which it is extracted at low temperatures by fractional distillation.

This limits use of hydrogen to deep dives and imposes complicated protocols to ensure that excess oxygen is cleared from the breathing equipment before breathing hydrogen starts.

If the body is deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes, unconsciousness and death result.

The tissues and organs within the body (notably the heart and brain) are damaged if deprived of oxygen for much longer than four minutes.

Breathing gases for diving are classified by oxygen fraction.

The boundaries set by authorities may differ slightly, as the effects vary gradually with concentration and between people, and are not accurately predictable.where the oxygen content exceeds atmospheric levels, generally to a level where there is some measurable physiological effect over long term use, and sometimes requiring special procedures for handling due to increased fire hazard.

The oxygen is usually the only metabolically active component unless the gas is an anaesthetic mixture.

Some of the oxygen in the breathing gas is consumed by the metabolic processes, and the inert components are unchanged, and serve mainly to dilute the oxygen to an appropriate concentration, and are therefore also known as diluent gases.

It is typically between 100 k Pa (1 bar) and 160 k Pa (1.6 bar); for dives of less than three hours it is commonly considered to be 140 k Pa (1.4 bar), although the U. Navy has been known to authorize dives with a P Divox is breathing grade oxygen labelled for diving use.

In the Netherlands, pure oxygen for breathing purposes is regarded as medicinal as opposed to industrial oxygen, such as that used in welding, and is only available on medical prescription.

A breathing gas is a mixture of gaseous chemical elements and compounds used for respiration.

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