What is Argon?

Argon (chemical formula: Ar), is a colourless and odourless compressed gas that is very slightly soluble in water. Argon is chemically inert (it does not react with other chemicals) and one of the most abundant gases, making up almost 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere. 

What is Argon used for?

Argon is most commonly used in the welding process to provide an inert and non oxidising atmosphere for the metals. 

Other uses of argon include:

  • Neon and fluorescent lighting
  • Food/drink
  • Metal manufacturing
  • Double glazed windows
  • Thermometers 
  • Medical equipment

Neon light tubes contain a mixture of neon and argon. 
Neon light tubes contain a mixture of neon and argon. 

Argon Hazards

The routes of exposure for argon include inhalation, skin and eye contact. Ingestion is not normally a hazard due to its gaseous state. 

Inhalation of argon may cause respiratory distress/discomfort, drowsiness, dizziness, sleepiness, reduced alertness, loss of reflexes/coordination, vertigo, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, coma, muscular weakness and irregular heart beats. Suffocation from vapours can result when the argon replaces breathing air. 

Skin exposure is not thought to be harmful, however it is still recommended gloves are worn to keep exposure to a minimum. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts or wounds may however lead to negative health effects.

Direct eye contact may cause tearing and redness, but similar to ingestion, this isn’t very likely due to being a gas. 

Argon Safety

If inhaled, remove the individual from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and ensure they are kept warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, administer CPR, preferably with a bag-valve mask device. Monitor the patient’s breathing and pulse continuously. Seek urgent medical attention.

In the event of exposure to skin, flush the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Seek medical attention if irritation occurs.

In the event of eye exposure, remove the patient from the contaminated area and flush the eye with plenty of cool water for at least 15 minutes. Ensure the patient opens their eyelids fully to allow the substance to evaporate. The patient should not rub their eyes or tightly shut their eyes. Seek urgent medical attention. 

Argon Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible nearby work areas and ventilation hoods are usually required in work areas to control air contaminants. 

The PPE recommended when handling argon includes chemical goggles, safety glasses with side shields, cloth/leather gloves, protective overalls, lab coats and full face respirators with supplied air (cartridge respirators do not protect the individual and can lead to suffocation). 

Argon can lead to lethal consequences due to improper handling. Always ensure you read your SDS before any handling takes place. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sa***@ch*******.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions.