Chilean Miners Didn't Face Many of the Risks the Media Said They Did

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"They made sure they optimized the health of the miners up until the time of the rescue," Polk said. "They contolled COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], hypertension, et cetera."

There have been other miners in similar situations that were not as fortunate.

"At Quecreek, the space was very confined," said Kunkle. While all the miners survived and were rescued, the confinement could have made their situation much worse.

The Miners Would Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

There was also speculation that the miners would suffer from a vitamin D deficiency because they were not exposed to any sunlight. A vitamin D deficiency can cause softening and weakening of the bones.

"Chilean health authorities anticipated this, and they gave them a large dose of vitamin D3 as part of their nutritional supplementation," said Polk. "This was also recommended by NASA."

"There might be some deficiency, but I don't think it will be very dramatic," said Kunkle.

Miners Could Suffer From Low Oxygen Levels in the Body

There were also fears that if oxygen levels were low in the mine, the miners could experience hypoxia, or a low level of oxygen in the body, leading to speculation the trapped men might suffer headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea.

"There is no medical basis for that conclusion. The atmospheric pressure was the same or imperceptibly different [than at the surface]" said Slovis. "Although the carbon dioxide content in the blood may have risen, they were taking full and complete breaths."

"The mine was extremely well-ventilated at 21 percent oxygen and they had oxygen in the rescue pod on the way up," said Polk.

The situation could have been very different, as it was at Quecreek.

"The [oxygen] concentration was only 17 percent. If we didn't get to them in time, at 17 percent concentration, they would have started to experience shortness of breath," said Kunkle.

"They [the Chileans] were able to get into excellent shape without real nutrition after 16 or 17 days. It's really inspirational," said Slovis.

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