Helium Shortage Deflating Balloons

By Emma Koch

Helium Shortage Deflating Balloons

February 13, 2013 Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- An increase in helium demand is creating a shortage for retailers who need the gas to fill balloons for Valentine's Day.

Not only is there shortage for the holiday season, but the shortage is causing problems for hospitals and other manufacturing facilities that use helium. MRI machines, lasers, scientific research programs and LCD production all need helium.

While helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, most of the Earth's supply goes through the atmosphere and into space. The United States is reported to produce about 75% of the world's helium. The helium that is used for industrial purposes is a byproduct of natural gas production.

Reports show that this shortage occurred last year as well. The reserve of recoverable helium is expected to decline each year after 2014. It appears that this may be because in 1996, Congress moved to privatize the federal helium program with the hope that private industry would help supply the demand. However private helium production hasn't taken off yet and consumers are left with higher prices and tightening supplies.

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