Light-induced sneezing and Argon effects

Beverly Erlebacher bae at
Tue Oct 22 15:47:20 EST 1996

In article <326BC80B.24A3 at> Paul D Boyer PhD <boyer at> writes:
>Another question is whether there are any side effects from breathing
>Argon gas.  This is a case of industrial exposure, where the tank warns
>that inhalation should be followed by removal to fresh air, and if not
>breathing, give artificial respiration.  Sounds a bit threatening, but I
>also know some manufacturers are a bit overzealous in their warnings. 
>Anyone have any comments?

I once talked to a guy who worked on a project making space suits
for NASA.  They did a lot of welding under argon.  He told me that
argon, being heavier than air, can pool in your lungs, and they used
to go out in the corridor periodically and stand on their heads to
drain the argon out!

I never did figure out how hard he was pulling my leg.  The standing
on heads bit did seem fairly unlikely (not that he did it, but that
it was necessary).  I've wondered whether the pool in the lungs bit had
any validity.  Certainly if there were enough argon around to seriously
reduce the amount of oxygen, you would be in trouble, but I don't know
if it would be any worse than an equivalent amount of e.g. nitrogen.

I have heard that higher numbered noble gases can have a narcotic effect,
xenon in particular, but don't know if argon is heavy enough.  Suggest
you look up argon's MSDS sheet, which is online, but I don't know the URL.

Beverly Erlebacher
Toronto, Ontario Canada

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