Where does argon come from
Henry Cavendish suspected as early as 1785 that argon is a component of the air. But it wasn't until 1894 that argon was rediscovered by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay.
Argon is the third noble gas in period 8 and is approximately 1% of the earth's atmosphere. The element is 2.5 times more soluble in water than nitrogen, which has about the same solubility in water as oxygen. This chemically inert element is colorless and odorless in liquid and gaseous form. There are no known chemical compounds that contain argon.
Argon is used in lighting. One property of argon is that it does not react with the hot wire in lightbulbs, even at high temperatures. Argon is also used in cases where nitrogen is unsuitable as a (semi-) inert gas.
Argon is also used as a protective gas in electric welding and cutting. Argon is used as an inert protective layer in the production of titanium and other reactive elements and serves as a protective atmosphere for growing silicon and germanium crystals.
Argon-39 is used in numerous applications, mainly ice core investigations, but also groundwater dating. Argon is also used in technical diving due to its non-reactive, heat-insulating properties to inflate the dry suit.
Since the atmosphere contains only 0.94% argon, the gas can only be obtained by liquid air fractionation. In contrast, the Martian atmosphere contains 1.6% of Ar-40 and 5 ppm of Ar-36.
The main isotopes of argon are Ar-40, Ar-36 and Ar-38. Naturally occurring K-40 with a half-life of 1.25 x 109 Years ago, it decays into stable Ar-40 (11.2%) through electron capture and positron emission, or it also decays into stable Ca-40 (88.8%) through emission of electrons. This behavior and these properties are used to determine the age of rocks.
In the earth's atmosphere, Ar-39 is created by cosmic rays (from Ar-40). Underground it is also produced by neutron capture by the K-39 or by alpha emission of calcium. Argon-37 is created when calcium-40 decays, which is produced in underground nuclear fission. It has a half-life of 35 days.
Health effects of argon
Ways of entry: The substance can get into the body through inhalation.
Released in the air, the argon liquid evaporates very quickly, which leads to the air being oversaturated with argon. In confined spaces this can lead to suffocation.
The gas is inert and is classified as nitrogen gas. Inhalation of excessive concentrations can lead to nausea, impaired consciousness and loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, suffocation, vomiting and death.
Death can occur indirectly as a cause of impaired consciousness, nausea or unconsciousness, since in these states it is impossible to rescue oneself from life-threatening situations. At low oxygen concentrations, unconsciousness and death can occur within seconds (without prior warning). If the liquid comes into contact with skin and eyes, severe frostbite can occur.
The symptoms of suffocation are proportional to the decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the air. Only when the oxygen content of the inhaled air has dropped to 75% of its original concentration in the air (75% from 21%) can noticeable symptoms develop. This requires the presence of nitrogen gas in a concentration of 33% in the air-gas mixture. If the asphyxiant reaches a concentration of 50% permanent damage can result. A concentration of 75% of the nitrogen gas in the air is fatal after a few minutes.
The first signs of being exposed to nitrogen gas are shortness of breath and a lack of air. The ability to concentrate is reduced and the coordination of movements is restricted. Judgment is also restricted and all sensations are suppressed. Often there is emotional instability and rapid fatigue. As the attack progresses, nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, and ultimately convulsions, deep coma, and death may occur.
Environmental effects of argon
Argon gas has no harmful effects on the environment. No adverse effects on the environment are assumed since argon occurs in nature. The gas is quickly distributed in well-ventilated rooms.
The effects of argon on plants or animals are e.g. Not known at the moment. It is believed that argon does not harm marine life.
Argon does not contain any ozone-enriching components and is not classified as a marine pesticide by the DOT (Department of Transportation, USA).
Argon and water
Back to the periodic table of the elements
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