Narrator: This is Science Today. Altitude training has long been used by endurance athletes to increase red blood cell counts. Now, instead of heading for the mountains for rarefied air, there are other solutions including pumping nitrogen into housing structures or altitude tents. John West, a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of California, San Diego, used similar technology to do essentially the opposite - that is, use oxygen-enriched air to improve conditions for high altitude workers.
West: They've found that it's enormously valuable. Their efficiency is greatly increased; the level of fatigue is very much less. They can do much more physical work; they can sleep reasonably well, whereas they certainly couldn't before. And so it's the difference between night and day working at that high altitude.
Narrator: West used a rugged, inexpensive oxygen concentrator to increase oxygen levels and alleviate symptoms of high altitude sickness.
West: The fact that we've been able to come up with this way of improving working conditions in a relatively simple way is very important.Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.