11 Dec 2012
Ban the bomb. NO! Ban the balloons! To valuable to blow
PARTY POOPERS, NO! THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF
HELIUM-filled balloons should be banned because they waste a valuable and non-renewable gas.
"The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue," Dr Wothers is due to say, in support of protecting the resource which is vital for modern medical equipment.
"I can imagine that in 50 years' time our children will be saying `I can't believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons'."
The lighter-than-air gas, extracted from beneath the Earth's crust, is used to cool magnets in MRI scanners in hospitals, and is also mixed with oxygen to help ill patients breath.
There is a global shortage of the gas, which cannot be synthesised, the Telegraph reported.
"If we keep using it for non-essential things like party balloons, where we're just letting it float off into space, we could be in for some serious problems in around 30 to 50 years time. The gas is hugely valuable," Dr Wothers, a fellow of the Royal Society for Chemistry, warns.
The global helium shortage has been a problem for the past few years, but has become more acute over the last few months.
Peter Wothers is a chemist from the University of Cambridge
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