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Four reasons helium balloons are deadlier than you may think

1. Helium, which is used for medical purposes, is running out

Helium is a non-renewable resource. Scientists have expressed conerns because the earth's supply of the gas is getting shorter and shorter.

Estimates give us about another 25 years before helium is expected to run out.

The product, while used in party balloons and other novelties, is also used by scientists and in the medical field for MRI scanners and other machines and can be used to help save newborn babies' lives.

However, some say medical professionals and scientists are already moving away from its use in order to find other, more sustainable resources.

2. Balloons can kill our wildlife

Wildlife carer Judy Elliott said she was dead against the practice of balloon releases at events and memorials.

"It's mainly the ones in the water that are in danger because the balloon looks like food and animals like turtles can ingest them and die," she said.

Turtles can face death by starvation because of their gut being blocked by deflated balloons which are often mistaken for jellyfish.

According to the Sea Turtle Foundation, biodegradable balloons can still take up to six months to decompose.

3. Balloon ribbons can pose a danger to animals too

Birds and even cattle have been known to be killed through choking or being strangled by stray balloon strings.

4. Helium can - and does - kill humans

Inhaling helium is more dangerous than people might realise, with almost 100 Australians dying from helium inhalation in the past decade.

A new advertising campaign fronted by Australian actor Michael Caton and backed by the gas supply companies, is hoping to educate the public about the harmful effects associated with the popular party trick of inhaling the gas to get a high-pitch voice.

If the concentration of oxygen is decreased below 18% within the human body, symptoms and signs of asphyxia can occur.

Helium gas can totally displace the available oxygen and if this is maintained for even a few seconds, asphyxia and death can and will occur.

 

Further reading

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/why-the-world-is-running-out-of-helium-2059357.html

http://www.geek.com/science/geek-answers-why-are-we-running-out-of-helium-1589334/

http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/Helium-balloon-releases-concern-environment/504446/

http://www.tcetoday.com/~/media/Documents/TCE/free-features/870helium.pdf

http://seaturtlefoundation.org/marine-debris-projects/

http://balloonsblow.org/impacts-on-wildlife-and-environment

http://www.tcetoday.com/~/media/Documents/TCE/free-features/870helium.pdf

Topics:  environment



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