I received my PADI certification when i was 14, although I haven’t had much oppertunity to use it. I’ve dived a little off the coast of South Carolina and in the Florida Keys, and it was fantastic! Although, I’ve always wondered whether the repeated use of pressurized artificial air was a risk factor for increased lung disfunction.
But, a study by the German Naval Insitute has concluded that scuba divers, who breathe a mix of “artificial air” while underwater, do not have increased lung deterioation. Changes in lung function had been previously reported with repeated scuba diving, but reports were mixed. This study recorded the decline of participants (468 military scuba divers and a control non-scuba group ) lung function over time, measured by maximum volume expelled in 1 second.
At the start of the study, the lung function of the participants was actually greater than the average of the general population (I would guess this is because these are healthy, fit military men who are in generally better heath than the average person.). But the researchers saw no significant decline in the non-smoking scuba versus non-smoking non-scuba group.
As a side note, they DID note that smokers showed a more rapid lung function decline than non-smokers (no surprise there.) In addition the most rapid decline was seen in smoking divers.