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Precautions to take when working with argon

Updated February 21, 2017

Argon is a nonflammable, nontoxic, colourless and odourless gas or refrigerated liquid. Although argon is not flammable or toxic, it can be dangerous. Argon gas is harmful if inhaled, and refrigerated liquid argon can cause tissue damage if it comes into contact with skin.

Storage

Store argon in an approved cylinder made of stainless steel, copper, nickel, brass, bronze, silicon, Monel, Iconel or Beryllium. Cylinders made of carbon or low-alloy steel are not suitable for argon storage. Keep the cylinders in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Store the cylinders in an upright position and assure that they never get as hot as 51.7 degrees Celsius.

Transportation

Transport argon only in approved gas cylinders. Secure all argon-containing cylinders in an upright position during transit; failure to do so may result in a dangerous, sudden release of pressure. Never roll or drag argon cylinders. Do not transport cylinders in an enclosed space, including a closed truck or van.

Protective Equipment

Contact with liquid argon may cause tissue freezing. Protect yourself from contact with argon by wearing loosefitting, insulated gloves, chemical repellent safety shoes and safety glasses or goggles. A safety shower should be available in case of emergency.

Breathing Apparatus

Argon is a simple asphyxiant. If you inhale argon, you will suffer from oxygen deprivation, which may cause impaired muscle coordination, diminished mental alertness and fatigue. Continued exposure could lead to death by asphyxiation. When you are working with argon a gas mask or self-contained breathing apparatus must always be located nearby in case of emergency.

Ventilation

Any area in which you are working with argon should be well ventilated. Air flow systems must prevent argon from reducing the concentration of oxygen in the air to less than 19.5 per cent.

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About the Author

Dan Howard is a sports and fitness aficionado who holds a master's degree in psychology. Howard's postgraduate research on the brain and learning has appeared in several academic books and peer-reviewed psychology journals.