May 11, 2019 - Energy & Environment

The global helium shortage affects more than just parties


Photo: Meyrick Villarica/EyeEm/Getty Images

A global helium shortage is forcing Party City to close 45 stores nationally, but it could also impact scientists and medical professionals who rely on the gas for equipment and research, reports NBC.

Why it matters: Without helium, doctors wouldn't be able to give their patients noninvasive MRI scans, and scientists need chemical element to pressurize fuel tanks for space travel and satellite instruments, per USA Today. Some scientists are even suggesting a total ban on party balloons to help with the shortage.

As for the inflated decorations, prices have been increasing steadily over the years and Party City has been putting the cost on customers, per NBC. Party City is currently negotiating a contract with a new helium supplier, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The backdrop: Nearly 75% of the helium comes from sites in Qatar, Wyoming and Texas, per CNBC. However, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Qatar that has forced the nation to stop all exports of the gas, and further strained access.

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