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No, the EPA is not banning argon

No, the EPA is not banning argon

A fellow named Neil Stevens over at Red State made this alarming claim:

There's more Argon in our atmosphere than anything other than molecular Nitrogen and Oxygen, and then Water. So now the science deniers in the Obama EPA are banning Argon. [Red State]

It's true, argon is common! It has important industrial uses as well — as an inert shielding gas, for certain lasers, and for neon and fluorescent lights. So if the EPA were banning it altogether, that would be bad news. Luckily, Stevens' claim is utterly false.

Here's what's really happening. As EPA Assistant Administrator James Jones explains in this letter, the EPA is responding to petitions from California Attorney General Kamela Harris and others who asked for new labeling of pesticide ingredients. The EPA rejected the petition and instead offered a compromise proposal (not an official regulation yet). They looked through the list of inert ingredients that are generally approved for use in pesticide formulations, picked only the ones that aren't used anymore, and propose to remove them from the list. If someone wants to use them again, they'll have to go through the normal approval process. That gives some protection from poisoning at a minimum of hassle.

As the summary states: "EPA is proposing to remove certain chemical substances from the current listing of inert ingredients approved for use in pesticide products because the inert ingredients are no longer used in any registered pesticide product." Not only is this about the use of argon only in pesticides, nobody even uses the gas for that anymore!

Rest assured, welding industry, your argon is safe. As for Mr. Stevens, he should have given this claim a second look.