Friday, October 5, 2007

Helium Shortage

What would birthday parties be without balloons? Al's Morning Meeting website says due to a global shortage of helium this could become a reality.

The supply of helium hit low levels in 2006 as refineries in the U.S., Algeria and Russia reported production problems. This poses a major problem as helium is used in one fifth of the world's helium to cool the super-cool magnets in the MRI machines. Helium is also used in microchip production, laser welding, and even to cool the space shuttle upon re-entry.

While filling up balloons is considered the least important use of helium, balloon sellers and florists at supermarkets are the first to see their helium order cut. This also poses a threat to hospitals as the demand for MRI machines continues to increase as the price of helium has more than doubled in the last five years says ScienticAmerican.com. And the production of helium has increased by only half as much.

Don’t be surprised if you see many party supply stores closing over the city of Syracuse. Just within this past month alone, Say It With Helium and Party Warehouse have closed. This will become more and more common as the 2000 National Academy of Sciences reports that the total U.S. helium resources will disappear by 2035.

1 comment:

Chelsea Pizzi said...

Joyce:

I find all of the websites you hyperlinked to be very useful and interesting. I am actually making a note of them right now.

Your story is really informational. Especially in the first paragraph. I definitely did not know MRI machines need helium to run.

One question--did the two party stores in Syracuse close because of the increase of helium prices?