How Much Pressure Can the Human Body Withstand?

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Jacques Cousteau recorded the deepest official scuba dive by Maurice Fargues at 117m, approx. 13 atmospheres of pressure, or 191 pounds per square inch. However, no definitive answer exists. The real danger in intense pressure on the body comes from several factors related to the pressure and the surroundings.

Intense pressure situations usually have other dangers associated with them like being deep under water. Brad Matsen explains, in "Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King," that Mr. Fargues passed away because he was under pressure for too long and lost consciousness due to oxygen toxicity while underwater, causing him to drown.

Also, rapid changes in pressure are perhaps more dangerous then the pressure itself. According to a BBC report, four divers were killed after going to 9 atmospheres of pressure and returning to the surface. The failure of a valve's operation caused the pressure in their decompression chamber to drop suddenly to 1 atmosphere. The decrease in atmospheric pressure changed dramatically from approximately 132 to 15 pounds per square inch.