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Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 1999 Jul;14(7):488-95.

The indigenous Sea Gypsy divers of Thailand's west coast: measurement of carbon monoxide in the breathing air.

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International Labor Office, Geneva, Switzerland.


Approximately 400 indigenous divers live and work on Thailand's west coast. They dive with surface supplied air from primitive compressor units mounted on open boats which measure from seven to 11 meters in length. It was suspected that carbon monoxide was present in the breathing air of at least the gasoline-driven compressor units. To determine the presence of carbon monoxide gas in the breathing air, compressed air from the compressor was pumped through the diver air supply hose through a plenum (monitoring) chamber established on the boat. After a compressor warm-up of 15 minutes, the diving air was measured with the boat at eight different bearings to the wind, each 45 degrees apart at intervals of five minutes. Three of the four gasoline-driven compressor units tested showed presence of carbon monoxide in the breathing air. One diesel-driven unit showed a very low concentration of carbon monoxide (3-4 ppm) and six diesel-driven units showed no detectable carbon monoxide. Although not tested, diesel exhaust emissions could also enter the breathing air by the same route. A locally made modification to the compressor air intake was designed and successfully tested on one gasoline-driven compressor unit. An information sheet on the hazards of carbon monoxide as well as on the modification has been developed for distribution among the villages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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