Helium shortage affecting more than just the party industry

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Helium is not only used for balloons, but it’s also a critical material for scientific medicine and research. 

For example, MRI’s also rely on helium. 

“MRI is a very important diagnostic tool, it would be a very sad thing if we did not have that ability,” said Staff MRI Technologist for Citizens Memorial Healthcare Angie Deckard. 

Deckard said her facility isn’t impacted by the helium shortage. 

However, she said the use of an MRI is essential in diagnosing a patient. 

“We can image any part of the body and find diseases, problems, infections, anything that might be wrong with a patient,” said Deckard. 

One Missouri State University Chemistry Professor said the future of medicine could be at stake if helium regulations aren’t adopted. 

“Companies who provide cells of liquid helium must demand special equipment for recycling,” said MSU Chemistry Professor Nikolay Gerasimchuk. “Or provide special pipelines which will utilize and collect gaseous helium, pump it into gas cans and deliver back to the company for liquefaction.”

Right now, only three sources produce about 75 percent of the world’s helium. 

They’re in Qatar, Texas, and Wyoming.

“Helium is not an element you can find again, it’s leaving the planet together with hydrogen,” said Gerasimchuk.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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