Many gases have toxic properties, which are often assessed using the LC50 (median lethal dose) measure. In the United States, many of these gases have been assigned an NFPA 704 health rating of 4 (may be fatal) or 3 (may cause serious or permanent injury), and/or exposure limits (TLV, TWA or STEL) determined by the ACGIH professional association. Some, but by no means all, toxic gases are detectable by odor, which can serve as a warning. Among the best known toxic gases are carbon monoxide, chlorine, nitrogen dioxide and phosgene.

Argon is non-toxic, it is 38% more dense than air and therefore considered a dangerous asphyxiant in closed areas. It is difficult to detect because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

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