For decades scientists have known that athletes who train at high-altitude, and then compete at sea-level, have a competitive advantage over those who train at sea-level only. Prolonged exposure to hypoxia, or lowered oxygen levels like those found at high altitudes, results in higher red blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and enhanced oxygen carrying capacity by the blood.
To take advantage of the hypoxia effect, some elite athletes spend weeks training at high elevations before an event, especially if the event is to be held at high altitude. Today, companies have designed sealed portable tents and even entire workout rooms where the atmosphere is modified to mimic that of being at high altitude. More recently, the new live high / train low approach is used whereby athletes sleep in sealed, oxygen-deprived tents or bedrooms while training at or near sea level.
In order to provide an extra level of safety in low-oxygen environments, CO2Meter.com was recently asked to modify our RAD-0200 Remote CO2+Oxygen Storage Safety Dual Alarm by lowering the pre-set minimum oxygen level alarms. Working with one company, the alarm threshold limits were lowered to 16% for the first alarm and 10% for the second alarm, down from 18% and 16% respectively.
Is a 10% oxygen level safe? 10% oxygen is the equivalent of breathing air at 21,000 ft / 6400 m above sea level, or about half the oxygen content in the air at sea level. While this low level of oxygen is not recommended for working out without preparation, through several weeks of acclimatization it can be handled by healthy adults. For example, Mount Everest (29,000 ft / 8,850 m) takes a month to climb primarily because of the amount of time spent resting and acclimatizing to the lower oxygen levels.