British chemist calls for helium balloon ban

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A British chemist believes helium balloons should be banned to save the scarce resource.

Dr Peter Worthers of Cambridge University says there will be "a serious problem" in the coming decades if the gas continues to be wasted in party balloons, reports The Telegraph.

"In 50 years time our children will be saying 'I can't believe they used such a precious resource to fill balloons'," Dr Wothers told the Telegraph.

The fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry said that because helium is both non-renewable and unable to be synthesized, it should be protected and prioritised for the medical products it is also used in.

Helium is currently also used to cool magnets in MRI scanners in hospitals. It is also used in breathing apparatus for both new born babies and ill patients with breathing difficulties.

These uses could be compromised if the non-renewable gas is allowed to be used in novelty balloons which effectively transport the gas into the atmosphere.

Helium is mined from beneath the earth's surface, with the majority of it extracted from the United States.

Dr Wothers said there could be unintended consequences for the celebratory gifts.

"If we keep using it for non-essential things - like party balloons - we could be in some serious problems in 30 to 50 years. The gas is hugely valuable."

- nzherald.co.nz

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