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Global shortage of helium could impact your health

Posted at 10:31 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 22:31:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS — At first, the helium shortage only gave way to concern if you were planning a party with balloons. However, RTV6 is now learning that it could be even worse news for your health.

Purdue University says the hospital relies on helium too. The element plays a vital role in cooling MRI magnets, and it's needed in much of the research tools that chemists use.

George Bodner, a professor of chemical education in Purdue's college of science, talks about how this helium shortage could impact you.

Bodner said:

"The most significant impact of a serious shortage would be the inability of hospitals to keep MRIs running, or in limiting patients' access to the imaging technique. To understand the impact this would have, you'd need to think back about 40 years, to a time when surgeons had to do exploratory surgery for diagnoses they can get in 30 minutes with MRI images, which are neither dangerous nor invasive."

Nearly 75 percent of the world's helium supply is produced in the United States. Purdue says at current the rate, it is projected that reserves of the element could run out in as few as five years.