A spectrochemical inductively coupled argon plasma (ICP) is normally operated in the open air. Therefore, it is suggested in the literature that entrainment of air molecules into such an ICP may cause loss of electrons, especially so at the plasma's edge. The present study discusses the significance of this effect. The density and temperature of electrons and nitrogen molecules around the edge of the plasma were measured by Thomson and rotational Raman scattering. A region where both electrons and nitrogen were present in detectable amounts (1019 and 1024 m-3, respectively) could not be observed. Above the torch inner wall the nitrogen concentration drops rapidly towards the plasma. Measurements suggest that the nitrogen concentration at 1 mm from the plasma is only a few percent, and in the active zones of the plasma (far) below 0.1%. This is not enough to affect the plasma significantly. Moreover, electron loss due to diffusion of nitrogen into the plasma is calculated to be much slower than the loss observed in earlier studies. Hence, air entrainment is unlikely to play a significant role in the ICP. A possible alternative is the formation and destruction of molecular rare gas ions.