For the time being the Environmental Medicine & Physiology Unit is following the SFU and provincial government guidelines, ceasing all non-essential lab and research operations. This means all research chamber operations are paused to keep social distancing and health protocols in place. EMPU staff are still working remotely, and we are continuing to provide you with updates on hyperbaric and diving operations during the pandemic.

Follow the links below for the latest studies and operational considerations for working at this time:

Environmental Medicine & Physiology Unit

The Environmental Medicine and Physiology Unit at Simon Fraser University is the only civilian research hyper/hypobaric facility in Canada. It is capable of pressurizing or, “diving,”  to 305 meters (30ATA, 445psi, 1000’) of sea water as well as drawing a vacuum, or “flying” the unit, to 33.5km Above Sea Level (ASL), which is equivalent to the atmospheric pressure on Mars (0.011ATA, 0.159psi, 100,000’ ASL).

The EMPU specializes in researching human performance in extreme environments.  We are capable of meeting specific requirements for hyperbaric, aerospace, and environmental testing of various degrees and equipment. Previous projects include, but are not limited to: pilot high altitude training (hypoxia), monitoring human operational parameters, acclimatization training, testing of survival suits, life-support systems, electronics and fuel cells.

Beards are in: Air Canada policy change following EMPU study

The EMPU conducted a study for Air Canada to test the effect that facial hair has on the performance of oxygen masks for pilots. The study looked both at the effectiveness of a mask to supply oxygen in simulated loss of pressure, and to keep a successful seal when harmful gases are present like in the case of a fire. The study concluded that facial hair does not impede newer style masks, which work using positive pressure, and Air Canada has recently changed their facial hair policy as a result. You can read the full story here, or listen to our Director Sherri Ferguson on CBC’s On the Coast here.


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