No More Independence Day Balloons? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

No More Independence Day Balloons?

Published July 17, 2013

A global shortage of helium could mean that next year’s June 17 celebrations may have to take place without balloons.
Despite being one of the most abundant elements in the known universe, there is currently a shortage of the gas, linked to a regulatory increase in the price of helium.
RÚV now reports that ÍSAGA, the only company in Iceland to import helium, has been having a hard time getting their hands on some for next year’s Independence Day celebrations. While they were denied their usual shipment of the gas, they hope to find smaller quantities elsewhere.
The global shortage is linked to the fact that helium is used for more than just filling up balloons and making your voice sound funny. Because of its extreme boiling and melting points, it has numerous scientific applications, such as in the manufacturing of costly MRI magnets. A shortage of helium could spell a health crisis, so government officials in numerous countries have sought to regulate the price to keep helium from becoming completely depleted.
In the event of a helium-free Independence Day, hydrogen will likely not be used as a balloon-filling substitute.

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