Still more on sucking helium...

From: Ron Bauerle <>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 18:48:16 -0500 (EST)

Again deleting my source's name to protect him :^) The only comment I'll
make is that I'm somewhat surprised that it's economical to get helium from
whatever's floating around the atmosphere; I seem to remember deep sea oil
wells being a major source, or am I confusing that with a Tom Swift story I
read years ago? :^)

Whoops, one other comment: isn't nitrogen "inert" as far as lungs are
concerned? (or most other things; doesn't it take lightning to make
nitrogen combine with oxygen?)

>The only comment I'll make is that as long as these "other inert gases"
>aren't things like chlorine, carbon monoxide, or hydrogen sulfide (none of
>which are really inert :^)), then I don't know what would be dangerous
>about inhaling party helium (but don't sue me if you do and it kills you :^))

Inert - heheh, poor choice of word on my part. :) Typically, the majority
of the other gas is nitrogen...same as regular air. But the primary
process of extracting helium is through freezing air until liquified
then extracting the gases as they "evaporate" from the liquid. But
other gases can also be frozen along with the's a matter
of what was in the area at the time. Granted, they should be filtered off,
but if it's not going to be used for medical applications (primarily decom-
pression chambers for deep sea divers), they don't always use enough
care during the process. Cyanogen (cyanide) gas, anyone?
And another reply from the same source:
>The deadly part is the fact that you are not inhaling oxygen. Once I
>heard about someone who put his mouth over a helium tank, with one of
>those balloon inflaters on top, turned it on, and took more that a full
>breath of helium. His face turned blue and he passed out on the floor. He
>recovered in about 10 minutes.

Not to mention that human lungs were never meant to be "inflated" that
way, and could cause an embolism or rupture of the lung. A balloon
doesn't have enough pressure to do that, since most human lungs can
inflate a balloon. Direct from the tank?? *SHUDDER*

But he'd have to be sucking a lot of helium to get that effect. The human
body can go for 3+ minutes without oxygen...and that's a lot of helium

Received on Mon Nov 27 1995 - 18:58:18 PST

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