Chemical Elements: Properties and Uses of Argon and Barium
Its symbol is Ar. Its atomic number is 18. Argon comes from the Greek word “argos” which means “inactive” because it does not easily react with other elements. Argon was discovered in 1894 by the British scientists Baron John William Strutt Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay. It is the most abundant of the noble gases and the third most prevalent gas in the earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, it is present in the Earth’s atmosphere at 0.94%.
Argon is colorless and odorless gas which is present in small amounts in the atmosphere. It is a very inert gas and is not known to form true chemical compounds. It is heavier than air.
Argon is used in light bulbs, fluorescent light tubes and is best for welding as its inert atmosphere provided does not burn welded metals.
Its symbol is Ba. Its atomic number is 56. Barium belongs to the alkaline-earth metals. It comes from the word “barys” which means heavy or dense. It was discovered by the English scientist Sir Humphry Davy in 1808.
Barium is highly reactive. This metal reacts vigorously with water or alcohol. It is a soft metal and is silvery-white like lead when in its pure form. It rapidly tarnishes in air. Barium’s reaction to almost all non-metals is dangerous as it often results to poisoning compounds.
It is used for spark plugs, fluorescent lamps, bricks, tiles, glass, paint, x-ray, fireworks, rat poison, rubber, among others. Barium compounds are used in fireworks and it emits green color to flames. Though the amount of barium that can be found in food and water may not pose health dangers, people who live near places with many hazardous waste locations containing certain amounts of barium that are water-soluble may get higher levels of exposure which may result to paralyses or even death in a few cases. This may also result to stomach irritation, increased pressure on the blood, breathing difficulties, among others.