Ban helium balloons

Dr Peter Wothers, a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a University of Cambridge chemist, will use this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures to argue that there will be “serious problems” in 30 to 50 years’ time if the lighter-than-air gas continues to be wasted in party balloons.

I’ve been saying this for over ten years. It sounds silly, but the point is obvious, when you think about it: unlike most elements, when you discard helium it floats to near the top of our atmosphere. There’s not a lot of it, and it’s not available as part of a non-gaseous substance the way hydrogen is. We should not be wasting it.


One thought on “Ban helium balloons

  1. Rob McMillin

    Or, you know, people could extract the stuff from existing natural gas wells. As it is, this is not economic because the government has taken so many steps to ensure the supply is too large for demand, and thus it’s artificially cheap. All it would take is a half dozen or so fractional distillation facilities at natural gas hubs.


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