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Argon (Ar) and water

Argon and water: reaction mechanisms, environmental impact and health effects

After nitrogen and oxygen, argon is the most abundant element in air (0.993% volume). Seawater contains about 0.45 ppm argon.


In what way and in what form does argon react with water?

Argon is a noble gas and it does not react with any other element. It does not even react at high temperatures or under any other special conditions. One succeeded in producing only one argon compound that was very instable, under extremely low temperatures. Consequently, argon does not react with water.


Solubility of argon and argon compounds

Argon has a water solubility of 62 mg/L at 20oC and pressure = 1 bar. Clathrates contain argon and release the element upon dissolution. Argon does not remain dissolved in water, at least not in higher than normal concentrations.


Why is argon present in water?

Argon occurs in a number of potassium minerals by radioactive decay of the 40K isotope. It is applied commercially for different purposes and is extracted from fluid air by 750,000 tons annually. Argon may than be applied as a protective sphere, because it is very unreactive. This may be of significance for electrical lighting. In fluorescent lamps it aids the starting mechanism. In light commercials argon glows blue. The larger part of argon production is carried out in steel industries. It is applied as insulation gas when air is trapped to protect heated metal from oxidation, for example during aluminium or titanium production.
In atomic research argon is applied to protect other elements from unwanted effects. It may also be applied as a protective coating from temperature change, for example as insulation in the interspace of double-glazing. Argon is applied in tyres of luxury cars to protect rubber and prevent noise emissions at high speed. Another popular application are argon laser for eye correction and tumor removal. Argon may be a useful marker, because it does not react with any present product, and during surface treatment it may be a useful carrier that does not react with target material. The argon method or potassium-argon method is applied in geology to date solidification time of volcanic materials. This is achieved by decay of solid 40K with a half-time of 1.3 million years to gaseous 40Ar that cannot escape from solids, merely during a melting process. Argon is a by-product of fractioned distillation for hydrogen production.
Despite all the above-mentioned processes, contamination of water by commercially applied argon is virtually impossible.


What are the environmental effects of argon in water?

Argon does not have any biological use. Diazotrophs, bacteria that absorb nitrogen and convert it to ammonia, may absorb argon, but they cannot apply it. Argon is non-water hazardous and no known environmental effects have occurred.
Argon naturally has three stable isotopes, and we now know of nine instable isotopes.


What are the health effects of argon in water?

Argon is present in the human body in trace amounts. The element is not a dietary requirement. Argon is physiologically ineffective. Health effects from argon present in drinking water are not expected.
The only health effect that may be of importance is argon accumulation in air that is breathed in, leading to oxygen deprivation and asphyxiation. Depending on exposure time, exposure to argon may lead to nausea and sleepiness, followed by breathlessness, unconsciousness, and possible death by asphyxiation.


Which water purification technologies can be applied to remove argon from water?

Removal of argon from water is insignificant.

Literature and the other elements and their interaction with water

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