Thursday, October 30, 2014

Denier weirdness: Jumping sharks? Deniers are inert today!

Sou | 1:35 AM Go to the first of 92 comments. Add a comment

What a lot of fuss. Over nothing. All so WUWT can do some EPA-bashing. Over a de-regulation would you believe!

Anthony Watts is running out of climate things to write about so he's decided to jump some sharks. He's claiming that the EPA is banning the use of argon in pesticides. It's not.

Anthony didn't bother reading the documents to which he linked. He just took science denier Eric Worrall at his word (archived here). Eric Worrall took science denier "IceAgeNow" at his word. None of them bothered to read the EPA material.

In fact, the notice states (my emphasis):
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.

Yep. That's right. They were on a list of inert ingredients approved for use, but now they aren't used any more. They aren't banned. They aren't needed, so why keep them on the list. In common parlance you could call it tidying up regulations. Doing a bit of housekeeping.

Once the list is finalised (it's still open for discussion), if a company wants to use a substance they will need to make a submission to the EPA:
Once an inert ingredient is removed from the list, any proposed future use of the inert ingredient would need to be supported by data provided to and reviewed by the EPA as part of a new inert ingredient submission request. The type of data needed to evaluate a new inert ingredient may include, among others, studies to evaluate potential carcinogenicity, adverse reproductive effects, developmental toxicity, genotoxicity as well as environmental effects associated with any chemical substance that is persistent or bioaccumulative. Information regarding the inert ingredient approval process may be found at http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/guidance-documents-inert-ingredients.

Argon kills

Thing is, inert doesn't mean the same as harmless. In the context of pesticides it would mean that it isn't an ingredient that is used to kill the pests. In this case, the substance that is getting the deniers up in arms kills people. It's argon. (Argon can be used to kill pests, mind you. But not in this context.)

Argon deaths are typically related to industrial accidents and it kills by suffocation or, should I say, oxygen deprivation. For example:
On December 31, 2008, a welder was preparing to conduct TIG welding on a 2 in. by 65 in. piece of pipe located in the vent trunk compartment of an aluminum vessel under construction. The estimated height where the pipe entered the compartment was about 1.5 ft from the bottom of the deck. The welding process involved using an argon gas purge on the pipe. The hose supplying the argon gas was in place on the top of the pipe. At 9:15 a.m., the welder completed a prior welding project. At this time, the welder exited the vessel to adjust his welding machine to complete welding on the vent trunk. At 9:18 a.m., a coworker passed the compartment where the welder was working and saw him laying on his side, unresponsive. The coworker called his foreman for help, and the in-house rescue team responded. CPR was administered to the welder. He was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced DOA. The cause of death was asphyxia.

Anthony wrote - and copied and pasted the following:
This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “noble” cause corruption. Documentation follows. Eric Worrall writes:
h/t IceAgeNow - the American EPA has stunned observers, with a list of inert additives for pesticide formulations they intend to ban, which includes the noble gas Argon.
Its hard to imagine a more inoffensive substance than Argon. As a noble gas, Argon is chemically inert – it participates in no chemical reactions whatsoever, except under exotic conditions – there are no known chemical compounds which can survive at room temperature which include Argon. Argon is not a greenhouse gas.

Anthony or Eric or IceAgeNow thinks argon is inoffensive. I don't imagine the relatives of people killed by argon find it inoffensive.

As for being inert, it's not completely inert, but for all intents and purposes it can be regarded as such. And as for banning it, no. The EPA doesn't intend to ban it. All it's proposing is that because it's not used any more in pesticides, it be taken it off the list of approved inert substances for pesticides.

IceAgeNow may have read the material or may not. If he did, he decided to make up stuff, writing:
So, why does EPA want to remove these materials from the list of compounds sanctioned for use as inert ingredients? The short answer is: they seem to have some mental blockage.

Nope. The short answer is that no-one uses it in pesticides. Or if they do they haven't said so.

Sheesh, what a lot of fuss over absolutely nothing. It's a slow day in the deniosphere.

About IceAgeNow.

From the website - it seems that IceAgeNow is one of those "ice age cometh" nutters (my emphasis):
Robert W. Felix, author of Not by Fire but by Ice and Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps, attended the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in the mid-1960s.
Upon graduation he traveled throughout the U.S. working with architects and builders from Florida to Colorado to Alaska. In the early 1970s he settled in Tucson, where he designed and built more than 300 custom homes and small office buildings.
In the early 1990s, drawn by a different passion, he signed up for further studies at the University of Washington. He spent the next eight years, full-time, researching and writing about the coming ice age.

From the WUWT comments

Typical of the fake skeptics at WUWT, almost no-one checks the facts and lots jump straight into their favourite paranoid conspiracy theory.

Ian W launches into a conspiracy theory:
October 29, 2014 at 5:56 am
Eric asks: “why on Earth would the EPA plan to ban something as inoffensive as Argon?” 
But he then goes on to answer his own question.
“Any effort to regulate the use of this harmless substance would do incalculable damage to American industrial competitiveness”
This would appear to be the rasion d’etre of the current EPA

Keitho agrees with Ian that it's all a plot:
October 29, 2014 at 6:40 am
It is hard not to think that Ian. Sometimes in the Occam struggle between clueless and malicious you have to come down on the side of malice.
The EPA is beyond satire. 

klem decides it's bizarre because argon is used for something quite unrelated to pesticides:
October 29, 2014 at 6:31 am
Wait a minute, at one point didn’t the EPA promote the purchase of Argon filled windows for homes because they reduced heat loss?
This is bizarre.

Alberto  is another fake sceptic who believes everything he reads at WUWT, without checking:
October 29, 2014 at 6:05 am
Argon? Are they serious? Argon is the third most common gas in the earth’s athmosphere at 0,93%. Will the EPA ban oxygen next? 

Finally some common sense from Barry who wrote:
October 29, 2014 at 6:56 am
Not bizarre at all. It’s being removed from the list simply because it’s no longer being used. Be happy that regulations get updated to avoid no longer needed regulation.


  1. re: Felix and IceAgeNow, he played a role in the embarrassment of UK Scientists David Bellamy, who also propagated his nonsense unchecked ...


  2. Barry is ploughing a lonely furrow over there.

    The best response so far is from DHR who thinks anything that's not specifically banned should be allowed in pesticides. In the name of FREEDOM.

    "Barry, perhaps your point of view has to do with your concept of Government. In civil society in western countries, you are allowed to do anything not prohibited. Its not that way in the military of these countries and its not that way in civil or the military in the former and currently Communists countries where you are only allowed to do what is permitted, all else being prohibited. I prefer our way."

    1. I have come across this rather strained idea of "FREEDOM" a few times. I cannot quite get my head round why the supporters of "freedom" think it is OK for someone or some organisation to do whatever they want and just take the consequences. That is, if they cause any harm they can be sued, as if that somehow fixes the damage caused. There is this quaint idea that the market solves everything. They seem to forget that the market lags behind the harm it is causing. And of course if you cannot regulate then the market has no need to alter what it is doing.

      I seriously heard a libertarian (on the radio) arguing that there should be no laws against drink driving. If you wish to make the decision to drive when drunk that is your right and if you mess up then you have to take the consequences. i.e. being sued, fined, jailed, licence revoked. Nowhere in this, apparently, is any notice taken of the harm being inflicted on the victims of such irresponsibility. It also does not take any account that if there is no law against drink driving then its is difficult to sue because what have they done wrong? I had to check it was not April 1st.

      Somehow these people think they want to have the freedom to harm other people!

  3. I don't understand the logic. If the ingredients are no longer used in any registered product, then why would they pose a problem if they remain listed? What is the benefit of solving a problem that doesn't exist?

    1. These are not necessarily harmless substances. Since they aren't being used at present, they can be scrapped from the list. It's housekeeping.

      If at some future time some company wants to start using them, they will have to provide assurance that the latest science doesn't show any reason why they shouldn't be used.

    2. Your logic still escapes me. How can a substance that isn't being used be harmful? Don't you have to actually use it for it to become a potential hazard?

    3. If it's not used then there's no issue. If someone decides they want to use it they have to show it's not harmful.


    4. If it is on the approved list then the EPA have an obligation to keep up to date with any new research or information about the substance, which is a waste of resources if nobody is using it. Seriously, if they didn't do this the cry would surely be 'why list a substance that nobody uses?'

    5. is it not used in medicine?


    6. Phil, using the Argon example, what is the annual volume of literature published on the environmental and health hazards of this inert gas? Is there anything to actually keep up to date with? If there is a research stream to keep up with, does the EPA stop being concerned about Argon because it de-listed it for pesticide use? I subscribe to the logic of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and I fail to see anything broken here.

    7. I'm guessing Jason is a hoarder. Probably has a house full of old newspapers stacked floor to ceiling. (It's not broke so why get rid of items that are no longer used or useful?)

    8. Sou, I have not made any personal remarks about you or your housekeeping skills, so why would you make personal remarks about mine? But I will address your ad hominem comment: there is a benefit to keeping things and a cost. The benefit to having an accumulation of newspapers on hand is they are useful for referencing recent news articles, mats for carving messy Halloween pumpkins, starting a fire in the wood heater (Canada here), etc. The cost is that they take up some storage space. I always keep a quantity of newspapers on hand just in case I might need them. I do not throw out (I recycle) all of my newspapers just for the sake of "housekeeping". In summary, there are benefits to keeping some newspapers on hand that outweigh the costs of getting rid of them.

      So far you have only offered conjecture that EPA housekeeping of these ingredients is a benefit that outweighs the cost of amending the regulation. Provide some evidence that this is true.

    9. Ha ha. And I was joking. It just goes to show.

      PS I don't have to show anything. The EPA wants to clean house and they can as far as I'm concerned. A tidy house, a tidy mind, an efficient organisation focused on what's important today, rather than wasting resources on stuff that isn't used.

    10. Jason, it isn't just about Argon, but multiple substances. Also, the EPA must keep track of the literature, and then go through all the specific lists to find out where that literature might be relevant to take into account.

      An example: supposed a paper comes out that shows compound X can actually absorb through the skin and cause skin allergies.
      Compound X happens to be on 30 lists with allowed substances in certain products. For each 30 products the EPA now has to determine whether this new literature would change the risk-benefit analysis.

      So, if compound X is on the list of allowed ingredients in pesticides, the EPA will have to determine whether it changes the risk-benefit analysis, regardless of whether it is even used. In other words: extra work the EPA would *have* to do - *by law*.

    11. "Phil, using the Argon example, what is the annual volume of literature published on the environmental and health hazards of this inert gas? Is there anything to actually keep up to date with?

      Well, a Google Scholar search for 'Argon' and 'Pesticide' finds over 8,000 studies published since 2010. Even if only 10% (say) are relevant to regulation somebody has to review and evaluate 200 studies per year ...

  4. Stagecoaches aren't used for travel any longer. Should the regulations be amended to ban stagecoaches from our roadways?

    1. You didn't even read this article, did you Jason. Let alone the EPA paper. (The EPA hasn't banned anything.)

    2. Sou, don't assume what I did or didn't read, stick to the facts. De-listing essentially revokes any future usage of the those ingredients, which is semantically equal to a ban. If the ingredients are not used, as the EPA proposal states, how can they be a hazard to anything or anyone? How is the non-use of something hazardous? Seems like a regulatory make-work project that solves a problem that doesn't exist for substances that aren't being used.

    3. @Jason
      Well, yes Jason, yes, the regulations probably should be amended to ban stagecoaches from our roadways. Certainly from our motorways. Oh hang on - they are already banned from them.

      Or more in the tone of you not reading the article. Hovercraft should be banned from our motorways. And hoverboards while we are at it. And all anti-gravity devices. Rocket packs. The ISS. Communists. Anything else you can think of?

    4. Jason, you mentioned logic escaping you before. Indeed it does.

      Let me go through each step carefully.

      Path A.

      1. The substance is not on the list of approved ingredients.

      2. As Phil points out, the EPA no longer has to monitor the latest research for it.

      3. This saves taxpayers money.

      4. It is not used as an ingredient in pesticides.

      5. The end.

      Path B.

      1. The ingredient is not on the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides.

      2. A company decides it wants to use an ingredient that is not on the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides. (It may have never been on the list or it may have once been on the list but is no longer on the list.)

      3. The company applies to the EPA for permission to use the ingredient.

      4. The company shows the ingredient is harmful.

      5. The EPA says, no, you cannot use it it is harmful.

      6. The ingredient is not used.

      7. The ingredient is not added to the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides.

      Path C.

      1. The ingredient is not on the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides.

      2. A company decides it wants to use an ingredient that is not on the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides. (It may have never been on the list or it may have once been on the list but is no longer on the list.)

      3. The company applies to the EPA for permission to use the ingredient.

      4. The company shows there is no evidence to suggest the ingredient will be harmful.

      5. The EPA says, go right ahead. We will add it back to the list of approved inert substances that may be used in pesticides.

      6. The EPA adds the inert ingredient to the list of approved inert ingredients for pesticides.

      Got it yet?

    5. Sou, it is pure conjecture that de-listing will save the EPA any resources and the taxpayers any money. On the contrary, there are costs to amending regulations, the benefits must outweigh the costs before it is justified. You need to provide some evidence that the EPA stops tracking research literature on a substance just because it de-listed it for pesticide use. Using the Argon example, are pesticides the only potential use of this gas? It seems to me that Argon has a number of industrial uses, hence the EPA still has to monitor and follow the research literature.

    6. Rolls eyes and shakes head. (I can hardly believe that such an innocuous everyday action, the sort of thing that happens all the time with regulatory bodies, is getting anyone so hot and bothered. It's nuts!)

      Jason, the list is specific to the use of the 72 or so substances when used as inert additives to pesticides. There are undoubtedly other regulations on their use elsewhere - such as in welding, industrial applications, medicine, manufacture or whatever.

      An example: using warfarin to kill rodents is regulated differently to its medicinal use for humans.

    7. >Sou, don't assume what I did or didn't read, stick to the facts. De-listing essentially revokes any future usage of the those ingredients, which is semantically equal to a ban.

      I'm the one sticking to facts. You, Jason, are making up stuff for some weird reason known only to yourself.

      No it's not equal to a ban - semantically or practically. If something is not on a pre-approved list, then it means that a company has to get permission to add a chemical to a pesticide. If the EPA then doesn't approve it - only after that can it be considered banned.

    8. Sou, so far you haven't given any evidence that the benefit of amending the regulation outweighs the cost. The EPA still has to track the literature and expend resources keeping up to date, these substances have other industrial and commercial uses besides pesticides.

      Also, if the status of a substance is currently "approved", and the status is changed to "not approved", you can call it banning, delisting, removal, disapproval, or whatever term suits your fancy. The practical effect is that the substance can no longer be legally used, without going through the time and trouble of arguing for it back.

      The onus should be on the EPA to make the case for why these substances should be removed, backed by a cost-benefit analysis. I see no such argument for substances like Argon.

    9. Jason, since you feel so strongly about this, why not go through the entire list and send a submission to the EPA explaining why, for each item that you feel strongly about, you believe it should not be removed from the list, despite it no longer being used in pesticide manufacture. If you are a pesticide manufacturer yourself, your submission may carry more weight. Even if not, I expect you will be giving some EPA employees something to do with their time. They will read your submission, consider it carefully and probably write to you and thank you for taking the time and effort to tell them how to do their job.

      Comments must be received on or before November 21, 2014.


      If you keep an eye out I expect there are many more opportunities for you to tell people how to do their job. I mean, to exercise your democratic right to have an input into decisions made by various agencies.

    10. Sou, you must also feel strongly about the topic, enough to write a blog post about it. ;)

      And I'm sorry, this is the EPA's proposal, the onus is on them to make the case for removal. You have presented regulatory housekeeping and cost-savings as arguments in support for, but have not provided any evidence that this is actually justified.

      The main problem I have with your argument is the "use it or lose it" mentality. Industry must use substances or lose them. The problem with that logic is that pesticide manufacturers might now go make some token products that use these ingredients, just to keep them available for optional future use. It might be cheaper to do so than to argue for them back.

      Sou, in the scope of government institutions and policy-making, do you think your "use it or lose it" argument should apply to regulations in general, or just this one case?

    11. You misread the article. I don't feel strongly one way or another in this particular case. The EPA knows its business and what they do in this regard I care little about.

      My article was about how three bloggers - Anthony Watts, Eric Worrall and the ice age cometh chappie got the story wrong. It's just another example of science deniers being either dumb or deceitful. Take your pick. And how almost none of the fake sceptics at WUWT picked up on what the real situation was. As usual. That's why they are known as fake sceptics.

      As for general housekeeping, I'm in favour of it, especially when it comes to dangerous goods like pesticides. I'm also in favour of sunset clauses for regulations generally. Politicians of all persuasions are much better at making new laws than repealing them. It's usually left up to bureaucrats to keep the house tidy and not have so much legislation on the books that it becomes totally unmanageable. If the house isn't cleaned up regularly, you can even end up with conflicting regulations. It can get very messy.

      (Don't be fooled by politicians who pretend to like small government. In my experience they are often (usually) worse at tying things up in red tape than those who outwardly favour regulation.)

    12. Actually, Jason, you are asking for the *presence* of regulation of stagecoaches. This is the appropriate analogy for this case. You say there should be a description in the law what stagecoaches are and are not allowed to do.

      Since nobody uses stagecoaches anymore (let's make it black and white for a moment), someone proposes to scratch those regulations. And *that* is what you are complaining about!

    13. Sou, actually there is quite a bit more information on the topic over at WUWT than there is here. I scanned through the comments and found what seems to be the cause of the proposal:


      The proposal seems to stem from a petition by a pesticides alternative advocacy group. They wanted hazardous inert ingredients listed on labelling. That apparently wasn't going to play because some inert ingredients are proprietary trade secrets, so the EPA polled industry and identified a list of unused ingredients for removal. It appears this is a compromise measure.

      The issue is that the original petition said *hazardous* inert ingredients. Some of the inert ingredients identified for removal are not biologically toxic at the cellular level. Yes, argon gas will suffocate you, but so will any gas in your lungs that doesn't contain oxygen. Argon is in fact used for packaging foods and gives superior results to nitrogen. Less food spoilage means less food waste and less overall pesticide use.

      Sou, If what motivates you is a pissing match with other bloggers that's your business, but just keep in mind that fake critics are equally as bad as fake skeptics. These other bloggers chose to use the "ban" theme but you haven't really refuted it, as that is the clear intent of the proposal.

    14. Marco, my beef is the "use it or lose it" attitude towards regulation. This actually encourages the opposite result of non-usage, manufacturers will make small runs of token products just for the purpose of reserving the option of using those ingredients in the future. It would cost less than arguing for them back at a later date.

      If the logic for banning hunting rifles was that nobody uses them, I would run out and buy one just to reserve the right. There has to be a legitimate reason for housekeeping regulations, "use it or lose it" is not a legitimate rationale.

    15. Agree Marco...this has to be the among the dumbest "up in arms" issue the denialoti has brought up. Seriously, argon is no longer used as a pesticide...who cares? Jason is so wound up about it, yet he doesn't even live in the US!! I love this stuff because it makes dumb denialoti behavior so transparent. Here's a link to somebody who looked into it some more to show how silly this is: http://theweek.com/speedreads/index/270917/speedreads-no-the-epa-is-not-banning-argon
      I actually went and read through the doc he sites (at least as much as I could before being bored). Yes, it is about costs and questioning the need for regulation. Here's a quote midway through the document in response to the request for more rulemaking:
      "At this time, I am reluctant to further commit a significant level of resources to this rulemaking effort in the absence of data or information clearly indicating that a rule requiring disclosure, but not otherwise affecting the composition or use of a pesticide product, would result in a significant reduction in the human health or environmental risks posed by the presence of inert ingredients in pesticide products. "

      So instead, the EPA proposed some more cost-conscious actions. First on the list:
      "1. Revise the list of inert ingredients approved by the EPA for use in pesticide products: The EPA maintains a list of chemical substances that have been approved for use as inert ingredients in pesticide products. After appropriate evaluation to confirm hazard, the EPA would remove from the approved list those inert ingredients listed in your petitions that are no longer being used in pesticide products. Based
      on our initial review of the 371 inerts ingredients, 96 of the inert ingredients identified in your petitions could potentially be removed from the approved list..."

      So expect 96 other dumb posts in WUWT about the EPA :)

    16. I would run out and buy one just to reserve the right.

      Are you American? Sounds like you are.

      Have you run out to buy a flight to Cuba? Oh no, that's right, you can't.

      Land of the free ...

    17. As others have said, there is a cost to keeping argon on the list, which is borne by the tax payer, in order to keep certifying its safety. Removing it shifts the cost to the eventual manufacturer that will need it in a hypothetical future, which may very well be never. What could possibly be wrong with that?

      Dan Hue

    18. I'm Canadian, some of us believe in preserving civil liberties. ;)

    19. "some of us believe in preserving civil liberties. ;)"

      Most people believe in preserving civil liberties. Just some of us recognise that it is not just about us. Our civil liberties can clash with other peoples civil liberties. Or is that too communist for you?

    20. Oh, was Jason talking about people. I figured he was anthropomorphising argon and pleading civil liberties for an inert gas :)

  5. To cut to the chase:
    The intention of the EPA is most likely that ingredients approved long ago need to be resubmitted if there is a wish to use them again.
    This is sensible if (as has likely happened) the requirements for approval have become more stringent.

    This situation occurs in the pharmaceutical field (especially animal health) and usually the result is that no company will front up the rrsearch dollars needed to meet the requirements of the newre regulations.

    Essentially a ban... Probably in most cases a reasonable one.

    Though Argon may be a poor example of the case.

    1. Exactly.

      Maybe later someone will discover a use for argon in pesticides again, and they'll have to certify the safety then. This action is increasing the onus on pesticide makers to certify their products as safe (for some version of safe that doesn't include being safe to the pests).

      I personally don't mind making it harder to bring out new pesticides; many societal feet have been shot off with more laissez-faire approaches. Nevertheless, calling this "deregulation" is odd.

    2. It is deregulation, numerobis. It's reducing the number of items that are covered by the regulation by 72 or whatever. It's basic regulatory housekeeping.

      What is odd is that the free-marketers want to keep these redundant items in the regulations. You'd think they'd be in favouring of reducing regulation. But not so.

    3. Argon is sometimes used for packaging foods as an alternative to nitrogen, it gives better results but is more expensive than nitrogen. Reducing food waste reduces overall pesticide use, as less food needs to be grown. Something to think about when doing housekeeping make-work for non-problems.

    4. Sure. What a lovely idea. I'll play. Here are some more things that one could think about:

      The sun
      A grain of sand
      One hand clapping
      What to cook for dinner
      The size of the universe
      Is Jason for real or just having everyone on
      My next vacation
      My last vacation
      Did I remember to turn off the iron

    5. You're free to occupy your mind with whatever tickles your fancy, but those deniers blogs seem to occupy 100% of it. ;)

    6. Jason - Argon is used for a lot of things. In welding, in energy-efficient windows, for preservation in museums. None of these uses are affected because they are not pesticides. How about doing some housecleaning on objections to non-problems.

  6. will this company have to close-



    1. I dunno. Will it? Why would it?

      I guess if they were relying on selling the gas to pesticide manufacturers in the USA for use as an inert additive to pesticides, they would have gone broke long ago. It's not used as an inert ingredient in pesticides in the USA by all accounts.

    2. I hope they are not going to ban co2 next-



      [Sou: Richard, this is HotWhopper, not WUWT. I could add it to the "From the WUWT comments" so people can wonder at the dumb. You are forgetting where you are. Or maybe you are angling for a spot in the HotWhoppery.]

    3. nobody will find it dumb, they will just find it funny. Lighten up!!


    4. 'I doubt you're right richard. If you want people to find it funny, go post it at WUWT. Although you missed the boat there because a few people already have, leaving denialists guffawing with mirth at their cleverness and wit.

    5. Argon is used for gas-injection vacuum packaging of foods. I didn't actually do a search to verify, but I'm guessing there has never been a documented case of someone opening a bag of potato chips, huffing that gas and dying from suffocation.

    6. Death from argon inhalation is not common but is certainly known: F.P.
      Smith, Multiple deaths from argon contamination of hospital oxygen supply, J. Forensic Sci. 32 (1987) 1098–1102. F. Musshoff etal, Two cases of suicide by asphyxiation due to helium and argon. Forensic Sci. Int. 223 (2012) 1-3.

      Argon has also been used for euthanasia in animals G.H. Poole et al, A comparison of argon, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen in a broiler killing system, Poult. Sci. 74 (1995) 1218–1223. J. Sharp et al,
      Comparison of carbon dioxide, argon, and nitrogen for inducing unconsciousness or euthanasia of rats, J. Am. Assoc. Lab. Anim. Sci. 45 (2006) 21–25.

    7. Mike, using basic reason, you can quickly conclude that filling your lungs with any gas that does not contain oxygen is going to cause suffocation/asphyxiation. Name how many gases you know that aren't oxygen, and that's how many will kill you if you fill your lungs with them.

      Singling out the asphyxiation hazards of argon gas is like singling out knives with blue handles.

    8. Not at all. Gases like argon (and CO2 and nitrogen), when they leak in confined spaces, are particularly hazardous because they are colourless and odourless so the workers aren't aware when they displace oxygen. Precautions need to be taken when using them (such as using oxygen detectors).

      Another difficult to detect gas, CO, is toxic even if O2 levels are maintained, because CO reacts in the bloodstream.

      Some other toxic gases are detectable through their odour or colour.

      A blue handled knife can be deadly if wielded in a manner that kills, not because it has a blue handle but because it is a knife. Argon can be deadly because it displaces oxygen in the air. So can nitrogen. So can CO2.

    9. Sou, there is nothing confusing or controversial about what I posted. Fill your lungs with any gas that isn't oxygen or doesn't contain oxygen and you will asphyxiate dead in about 5-10 minutes. It's a "no-brainer".

      Detectability is an entirely different issue. The EPA isn't proposing to remove argon because of its lack of detectability, it's proposing removal simply because nobody reported using it.

      And remember, if pesticide manufacturers aren't actually using it, then nobody could possibly die from argon asphyxiation when making pesticides. Right?

    10. >"The EPA isn't proposing to remove argon because of its lack of detectability, it's proposing removal simply because nobody reported using it."

      The penny finally drops. No need to keep all these 72 chemicals on the list if they aren't being used these days. The list is long enough as it is.

      How's your submission to the EPA going, Jason? Perhaps you're thinking of asking the EPA to add more items to the list rather than cutting out irrelevant items. You could suggest they add oxygen, nitrogen, water, or maybe your blue knives and stage coaches? You never know when a pesticide manufacturer might want to add a blue knife or a stage coach to its pesticides.

    11. For the sake of pedantry:

      1. Argon, Nitrogen and Helium (all used as welding gases) are not toxic per se to mammals, they are simply dangerous when they displace air, and reduce oxygen absorption into the blood stream, with rapid unconsciousness developing (30 to 60 seconds!) due to oxygen deficit in brain tissues. They are simply dangerous in a confined space, or if you stick your head in a bag full of it. Obviously Helium is much lighter than air so is a bit less likely to be a problem in the normal confined space working area (unless it is a diving bell of course).

      Carbon dioxide will similarly kill you, however you will be acutely aware it is happening due to CO2 stimulation of your breathing reflex and you will notice you are gasping for breath. Water will similarly kill you by oxygen deprivation, but again you will be acutely aware of it due to the distress of having lungs full of liquid and triggered drowning reflexes.

      Carbon monoxide will also kill you via a pathway of oxygen deprivation, but by being very easily absorbed and by attaching preferentially to haemoglobin (it has a many times greater affinity for haemoglobin than does oxygen) Sometime there are symptoms of lightheadedness or dizzyness or headaches, but these may actually simply be symptoms of slow oxygen deprivation.

      2. This is perhaps technically not a ban, but it does mean any future use of these substances for this purpose requires re-submission and, no doubt, new data, so it is hardly 'de-regulation'. It is demanding that any new use for the purpose enters the regulatory framework anew. In my opinion this is generally a good thing, except you will find some options are now 'off the table' as no company will spend the money on doing the physiological (and carcinogen?) trials which will be needed to supply the more stringent data required.

    12. Jason, the EPA isn't stopping the use of Argon in food packaging. What is your point? In the world of pesticides, it is no longer used, so is being taken off the list of approved ingrediants. In food packaging it is used, and its use is not being touched by the EPA. No comparison at all.

  7. My favorite IceAgeNow article was when his site promoted the prediction that 2013 would be the coldest in 208 years and start an ice age. Sou, feel free to add an Archive link if you want. Easy to find in a Google search.

  8. The EPA should ban oxygen, after all we know it killed three Apollo astronauts. Or maybe the EPA should ban all electrical devices, as it was a spark/short from an electrical device/wiring that was the ultimate cause. Or maybe the EPA should ban all manned space flights, remember we had, not one, but two space shuttle failures. Oops, the EPA should ban all mechanical devices, because if even one person dies, for whatever reason, mechanical devices killed that one person.

    Think about it, that would solve a lot of problems in one go, at last in the USA, hopefully.

    Path D.

    0) Government agencies should always be trusted to do the right thing, because, well just because, oh I don't know, now please just go away.

    1) Argon remains on the EPA list of approved pesticide additives.

    2) No one uses it anyways.

    3) The EPA finds a real valid scientific reason to ban Argon use in pesticides. The EPA has a real valid scientifically based reason to ban Argon use in pesticides, The EPA thus bans Argon use in pesticides. D'oh! What a concept.

    4) Reductio ad absurdum

    1. Are all deniers nuts? (Is that a tautology?)

      (The EPA isn't banning argon.)

    2. What EXACTLY is it that I am denying?

      That your basic "Argon killed a welder" was in fact a straw man argument.

      There can be no getting around your use of that informal logical fallacy.

    3. You've earned a reputation here as a climate science denier IIRC, Everett.

      On this thread (and the thread at WUWT), deniers keep banging on about how argon has been banned when it hasn't, and oh that dreadful EPA for tidying up its regulations. The latter is particularly odd given that it's been shown that (extremist) free market ideology is associated with science denial (science deniers are more likely to be free marketers, although most free marketers are probably not science deniers), and people espousing free market ideology generally favour smaller regulation, not larger.

      I mentioned that argon has killed quite a few people in industrial actions merely to underline that Anthony Watts and Eric Worrall were wrong to claim one could hardly find a "more inoffensive substance".

    4. Semantics?

      Ask yourself these set of questions:

      1) Why did the EPA put Argon (and other approved agents) on that list in the 1st place?

      2) If something was once approved and is now not approved, how is that different from banning said agent? Please remember, we're talking about semantics, you know, the meaning of words.

      Did you or did you not invoke an informal logical fallacy?

      So for example, the EPA should BAN swimming as that is a known KILLER. Yes or no? Do you see the informal logical fallacy?

      After all, water IS a "more inoffensive substance" correct? I mean that water does appear to be a basic necessity for most living things correct?

      Here let me help you, I'm agnostic (not in the strict religious sense) in ALL things and I'm a misanthrope (and yes, I do hate myself) in ALL things.

      What I can't accept is a blindness/acceptance to any/all ideologies.

      You clearly have an ideology. I do not have any ideologies.


    5. Read the article and the comments. If you still don't get it, I suggest a course in critical thinking, and/or a course in logic. If those don't help, I suggest you just focus on simple tasks required for every day living, and leaving the thinking to other people.

    6. Ad hominem.

      You have just proved my point.

      Thank you.

    7. Not at all (again). An inability to understand the issue and follow the discussion is more than relevant. It's probably the reason you're getting so upset at the EPA for cutting down the number of inert substances in the list in the regulations.

    8. Sou, what is the point of accepting comments if you are going to simply reject any POV that disagrees with yours? The point of having an open discussion is to learn and share information. If you have nothing to learn then you are the first omniscient person I have ever met.

      The fact of the matter is this isn't about housekeeping, it's about appeasing some anti-pesticide activists who petitioned the EPA.


    9. Pot - kettle. All your zillions of comments on the subject are here, Jason. Proving the point of my article. What are you complaining about?

      Is it that you haven't been able to persuade me to change my opinion that regulations are better lean and mean? Is it that you don't like it that I prefer fewer regulations to more regulations? Is it that you've not persuaded me that bloated regulations are better?

      Does it matter what precipitated the clean up? The result is a good one IMO. You disagree. (Which is odd. Anti-environmentalists usually want fewer things listed in regulations, not more.)

      I don't see you changing your opinion, why do you expect me to change mine?

    10. Jason can you please clarify: do you think it is the role of the EPA to go through every chemical compound known to humanity to assess its safety for use in pesticides, and then to remain abreast of all research relating to all such compounds?

    11. Captain, the document link I provided above covers the background and explains what the EPA's role in this is. This removal proposal stems from an anti-pesticide group's petition for ingredient labelling. The petition ultimately failed because some manufacturers would have had to reveal proprietary information. The removal proposal appears to be a compromise to satisfy the group's demands. Which means the motive of periodic housekeeping is bunkum.

    12. So you won't clarify what you think about the role of the EPA? I thought not.

    13. Everett F SargentOctober 30, 2014 at 11:33 AM
      "The EPA should ban oxygen, after all we know it killed three Apollo astronauts"

      The EPA understands that a decision must be made by balancing the benefits and the hazards that a substance represents. That's such a simple idea I am surprised you don't understand it.

    14. But Jason, since you read the article linked to above - you'll realize that it was about a cost compromise. The idea that it had something to do with costs was something you challenged Sou about above, but never conceded. Now, you've retreated to the "housekeeping" stance, but should still concede on the cost point.

      I continue to assert that this is one of the dumbest "outrage events" on behalf of the deniers ever. I can't wait to see more articles at WUWT as to why other inert ingredients are no longer regulated (from a group that supposedly hates regulation). Readers can now transparently see how denier outrage is not worth anybody's time.

    15. Wow. Some amazing questions raised. Should the EPA ban oxygen? After all, they're removing Argon from a list of approved pesticide ingredients because no longer used and not banning in other applications, so why not go further and ban oxygen, which is widely used? I'm thinking that numerous studies seem to show Oxygen's necessity in human physiology. Still, other studies show that too much of it - hyperoxia - can cause lung damage; for that reason states like Texas decided to regulate recreational oxygen bars. But that's just some over-reaching state governments, like Texas, and they are not banning it generally, like the EPA is not doing with Argon. Let's use the EPA's reasoning: their action on Argon was based on creating less work for themselves, so using government reasoning, it would be most consistent if they do not ban oxygen, since a ban would create lots of work. I think that one's settled. But, wow, really good question, really.

      The next question, too. Wow, should they ban all electrical devices? This one's harder because nobody uses electrical devices to maintain biological life. Oh, except the people who do - like pacemakers, dialysis machines, and heating and lighting and stuff. Maybe, to address safety in electrical appliances, instead of an outright ban, they could have some organization test appliances and certify them as safe. They could create something like "nationally recognized testing laboratories" - wouldn't that be a great idea? I wonder why nobody in government thought of that - typical!

      The other questions boggle the mind. Should EPA ban spaceflight? Maybe it could ban NASA. But what if NASA banned EPA first! It could be like a great episode of Robot Wars, only with different parts of government banning each other. But as a first step, I think they should go all out and ban Argon. What's with half-hearted attacks on industry like removing it from approved ingredients that aren't used? They'll never achieve world domination that way.I mean what the hey, people posting on the internet already think they've banned it from anything & everything, so it wouldn't be that hard to finish up banning it.

    16. They didn't ban argon. Hilarious commentary on a non-issue. Next?

    17. http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2014/10/denier-weirdness-jumping-sharks-deniers.html?showComment=1414699478134#c2153308937982037154


  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. "It's probably the reason you're getting so upset at the EPA for cutting down the number of inert substances in the list in the regulations."

    Am I upset? Specifically at the EPA for ... ?

    I don't think so, but since you think that I don't know how to think, or some such, help me out here, OK?

    Maybe now, I should get upset at the EPA because you said I was upset at the EPA. Oops, I am SO upset at the EPA, is that better?

    Since I, quite obviously, can't think for myself and that I must rely on others to do my thinking for me, here's what I have to say, in a sort of, you know (Because I sure don't know, now do I?), unthinking way.

    Go EPA! Run EPA run. See EPA run.

  11. Eric/Anthony/IAN writes "As a noble gas, Argon is chemically inert – it participates in no chemical reactions whatsoever, except under exotic conditions – there are no known chemical compounds which can survive at room temperature which include Argon."

    Therein lies the clue for E/A/IAN i.e. in his own sentence. Argon is not present in any pesticide compound, it's chemically impossible at room temperature. If it is used for an inert shielding gas during manufacture, argon won't remain as a residual impurity as it will quickly diffuse from any pesticide. Instead, argon itself has been used as a pesticide, either on its own or with nitrogen, e.g. in an anoxic chamber to rid museum artifacts of insects or fungi - the insects succumb quickly and the fungi takes 2-3 weeks. Some US pest exterminators have apparently used it in portable, softwalled, anoxic chambers to eradicate bed bugs from mattresses but not every state allows or allowed its use. Possibly because it's lethal to humans in minutes, if not seconds, when its concentration reaches 75 per cent of 'air' volume. Whether any pest controllers or museums still use it, is a matter for conjecture because it's expensive. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen are cheaper and generally achieve the same result.

    Argon, helium or any of the Noble Gases (noble = not chemically inert) are dangerous, 'inert' gas asphyxiation, because breathing them in a pure state does not cause discomfort. Simply put, our bodies have no physiological mechanism for detecting them. Using balloon gas (97% helium with oxygen and nitrogen impurities) or argon or neon, to make our voices sound 'squeaky' or different can be deadly if it's overdone and we don't resupply oxygen to our lungs. On the bright side, we die painlessly and most likely unaware of what is happening. Using an inert gas is one way to carry out an 'assisted suicide' and has been suggested as a more humane alternative for the hydrogen cyanide used in 'gas chambers' for the purpose of capital punishment.

    The EPA's action is a response to petitions from California's A-G and others who asked for new labelling on pesticide products sold to the general public. The EPA rejected the petitions but as a compromise are proposing the removal of components no longer used in pesticides as Sou has outlined and others commented on above. It's all explained in a 22 May 2014 letter that can be downloaded from here. Given that most people purchasing pesticides don't read the list of components, the EPA couldn't justify the effort and expense of going through formal rule-making procedures, alteration of labels, etc to accede to the petition.

    Advance notice of the proposed rule-making by the EPA was given on 23 December 2009 and called for feedback. Of the 405 comments received by the EPA, none was submitted by Eric, Anthony or IAN (and I say that with some confidence). One of the major sources of industry opposition to the disclosure of 'fillers' or inert components or leftovers in their products is that it could provide information on manufacturing processes to their commercial rivals e.g. it gives clues to the chemical steps used to produce the pesticide. None of the pesticide producers who submitted comments could quantify how many people read the labels on their products.

    If anyone has come from Ian's/Anthony's/IAN's article and has read this far, the EPA is an environmental protection agency which was proposed by Richard Nixon and created for the purpose of protecting human health as well as the environment.

  12. I didn't think argon had free radicals but you seem to have at least two attached here.

    1. Sou, can you delete this anonymous comment? I wanted to make that joke ;-)

  13. The first stable argon compound was predicted using computer models - oh, the irony.


  14. For those NOT engaged in making informal logical fallacies, a few useful links would seem/appear to be in order:

    http://iaspub.epa.gov/apex/pesticides/f?p=101:1: (carrage return brings up full lists)

    Please refer to the 2nd link titled:

    Understanding the Science behind EPA’s Pesticide Decisions

    Since the current request for comments is open until 11/21/2014 and the current list of inert items up for removal appears to be arbitrary and capricious (not currently in use therefore remove it) I think it is only appropriate to ask the EPA what was the science behind EPA’s pesticide decision in this particular case.

    The EPA's own documents appear to suggest that this is a simple non-science based decision.

    Out of a total of 5360 inert items EPA proposes to remove 72 (or ~1%). And the EPA was petitioned ~8 years ago (2006) to come to a proposed decision that probably took minutes to do a computer based Boolean search.

    Go slow EPA! Run slow EPA run slow. See slow EPA run slow.

    1. Those commenters who are very upset with the removal of argon from the pesticides list should check out the full list of 72 chemicals listed in a downloadable Word document here. There may be other chemicals on the list that they might not be happy with being removed from the approved inert ingredients for pesticides e.g. nitrous oxide, boron oxide (diboron trioxide), ethyl methyl ketone, etc.

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting public comment on a proposal to remove those 72 chemicals from its list of substances approved for use as inert ingredients in pesticide products. Those commenters who are very upset with the removal of argon from the pesticides list can access further information on the previous 405 submissions, the primary document, supporting documents, current comments, comment hotkey, comment checklist,etc here. It's all rather easy to do. Submissions may be made anonymously. Supporting documentation as to the commenters' reasons for retaining all or any of those chemicals should be supplied through the upload facility e.g. either one of the commenters or their company is still using one of the chemicals as an inert ingredient in a pesticide.

      Those commenters who are very upset with the removal of argon from the pesticides list have got until Nov 21 11:59 pm ET (US) to submit their reasons for retaining argon and any other or all of the 72 chemicals on the list. I encourage them to do so and will be looking forward to reading their submissions sans the " Go slow(comma) EPA!" tosh.

    2. Except Everett, you forgot to link to the one article that explains the whole thing: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0558-0003

      This was in a response for more regulation. It would cost too much so instead the EPA proposed a compromise of several steps. The first one was simply to remove inert ingredients that weren't even used anymore. That's it. That is what this is all about. Here is the relevant quote from the doc:
      "Merely drafting the required portions of a complex rule consumes significant staff resources from several parts of the agency. In addition, we must seek and consider the comments of other agencies within the federal government, and this rule would likely undergo review by the Office of Management and Budget. Publishing the proposal, receiving and responding to commen~s, developing a final rule and undergoing the process of publication can easily last several years. We must also discuss and document market failure as part of the justification for
      rulemaking, mitigate impact on small businesses, ensure proper legal authority, and adhere strictly to processes outlined in several federal laws. At this time, I am reluctant to further commit a significant level of resources to this rulemaking effort in the absence of data or information clearly indicating that a rule requiring disclosure, but not otherwise affecting the composition or use of a pesticide product, would result in a significant reduction in the human health or environmental risks posed by the presence of inert ingredients in pesticide products. "

      So the EPA decided against more regulation and their counter proposal to the petition for more regulation involved the removal of inert ingredients no longer in use:
      "1. Revise the list of inert ingredients approved by the EPA for use in pesticide products: The EPA maintains a list of chemical substances that have been approved for use as inert ingredients in pesticide products. After appropriate evaluation to confirm hazard, the EPA would remove from the approved list those inert ingredients listed in your petitions that are no longer being used in pesticide products. Based on our initial review of the 371 inerts ingredients, 96 of the inert ingredients identified in your petitions could potentially be removed from the approved list. "

      One of the dumbest "outrage events" from deniers ever.

    3. Joe,

      Sou linked to the 001 document, from there you can get to the 002 and 003 documents by hitting the docket button.

      Also, up thread the 0003 document was already linked:


      I've already read it.

      Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (an NGO with an agenda, go figure)


      How about the International Organization to Eliminate all Fertilizer Use (I just made that one up, hopefully something like that does not actually exist).

      If we just do these two things, 1) eliminate all pesticide use and 2) eliminate all fertilizer use, the creepy logic argues for a better world (a few billion less people being a good thing, or so I would presume).

      I'm starting up a new nonprofit titled: Save All The Argon Now ;-)



      I don't think that I am "very upset" or "so upset" or even "upset" about argon being removed from the EPA list.

      Also your 2nd link is just to the current "EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0558" docket documents, there is/was/must be another docket for the original 405 (#SaveThe405) comments, etc..

      I pointed to a link that shows 5360 approved inert ingredients, most of those sound really creepy (like Xylene, ... thousands more with creepy sounding titles ..., Oxygen and Water).

      I originally got into this because I saw what I felt was a fallacious point of argumentation.

      If both sides of this so called "debate" want to engage in somewhat simplistic black-or-white points of argumentation, so be it.

  15. Oh my god Everett, there are only 5306 compounds on that list!? But there are waaaay more compounds than that in the universe!!! Why is the EPA only monitoring the safety of 5306!!!? Oh my god, go slow EPA!

    Could it be the EPA only monitors compounds that are actually used in pesticides? Yet you anti-regulation deniialists think this is weird?

    1. 5360 compounds.

      0) Straw man argument.
      1) Drink a cup of each one of those 5360 inert compounds.
      2) The coroner will list the cause of death as "drowning" with 5360 inert trace elements.
      3) The "D" word. Knee jerk reaction.

    2. Can you even read, Everett? I made no argument, I asked a question!

  16. The mods at WUWT apparently rationalize lying to gullible readers just as long as you put a question mark at the end: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/29/the-epa-jumps-the-shark-banning-argon/#comment-1775290

  17. I'm looking at the actual EPA press release (http://yosemite.epa.gov/OPA/ADMPRESS.NSF/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/3397554fa65588d685257d7a0061a300!OpenDocument), and it quotes the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention: “We are taking action to ensure that these ingredients are not added to any pesticide products unless they have been fully vetted by EPA.” It is pretty clear that these 72 chemicals, argon amongst them, are being removed from a list of approved pesticide additives. WUWT had it right.

    1. Removed from...unless fully vetted vs banned. The differences are clear to anyone but those who just want a stick.

    2. Agreed Marco and also nobody uses it in pesticides anymore!! The non-event and false alarmism continues. (see what I did there?)


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