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On A Serious Note.

On a serious note, just one lungfull of pure helium can lead to unrecoverable unconsciousness and death.

When pure He is inhaled, not only is there no life sustaining O2 being introduced to the lungs, but gas exchange results in O2 migrating rapidly out of the bloodstream, leading to immediate unconsciousness.

Since the stimulation to breathe is caused, not by lack of O2, but by build up of CO2, respiratory failure can be immediate, subsequent resuscitation may be impossible. Since the blood is also depleted of O2, the onset of brain damage may also occur much more rapidly.

When an individual breathes hypoxic trimix, the gas exchange mechanism is exactly the same, ie not only is the gas low in O2, but O2 is also diffusing out of the body rapidly and unconsciousness can occur without warning.

Helium is a very safe, inert gas for diving purposes when used with proper precautions, BUT it is not a toy.
 

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We had an open event at one of our buildings a while back and I got the offer to help out, whilst there I checked out the labelling on one of the helium cylinders being used to fill the childrens ballons and I'm sure it had a content of 98.5% helium.

I do remember that one lungful of the mix made me feel incredibly woozy and light-headed and I didn't partake of any more!!
 

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well done leigh g for bringing a more serious side to this thread.as divers i think that most of us should have at least a basic understanding of gas laws/principles so how come in everyday life we think that its quite funny and a bit of a laugh to mess about and even let our children breathe from a balloon that contains a potencially lethal gas that is as some of us know is an asphyciant but because we naturally hear that balloon gas contains oxygen we assume that it is okay to play with??if we did any checks into the actual percentige of oxygen in a helium balloon we would find that it contains less than 0.5%o2 hardly normoxic(or life supporting at 1 bar)makes you think doesnt it??????????????
 

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On a serious note, just one lungfull of pure helium can lead to unrecoverable unconsciousness and death.

When pure He is inhaled, not only is there no life sustaining O2 being introduced to the lungs, but gas exchange results in O2 migrating rapidly out of the bloodstream, leading to immediate unconsciousness.

Since the stimulation to breathe is caused, not by lack of O2, but by build up of CO2, respiratory failure can be immediate, subsequent resuscitation may be impossible. Since the blood is also depleted of O2, the onset of brain damage may also occur much more rapidly.

When an individual breathes hypoxic trimix, the gas exchange mechanism is exactly the same, ie not only is the gas low in O2, but O2 is also diffusing out of the body rapidly and unconsciousness can occur without warning.

Helium is a very safe, inert gas for diving purposes when used with proper precautions, BUT it is not a toy.
Good post :thumbsup: I generally feel that training for a hypoxic trimix qualification when you have no intention of diving to the depths where it provides a benefit, and then using it, is somewhat unnecessary and potentially "Darwin-esque"

However, I was interested by this bit :

" When one breathes helium, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream causes a rapid loss of consciousness. Some euthanasia experts advocate the use of helium to painlessly end one's life. "
 

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Balloon He contains atleast 21% O2 just in case silly kids (my daughter) breath it to get squeaky voices !
The stuff I analysed didn't. We had a J of balloon He around for an event I was working on, I happened to have an analyser in the car and checked the O2 content, 0.0%

Other bottles may however be different.

Danny
 

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The stuff I analysed didn't. We had a J of balloon He around for an event I was working on, I happened to have an analyser in the car and checked the O2 content, 0.0%

Other bottles may however be different.

Danny
thanks danny im sure you will agree with me that most peoples asssumption or thinking is that ballooon grade helium is safe because it contains oxygen and joe public assumes that it the gas is harmless and even a percentage of divers on this forum asssume that the gas that is in our childrens party balloons is harmless and therefore safe for any of us to do what we want with it ?surely there must be some form of safety standard/legislation that protects us/joe public/our children from an obvious life theatening
issue??well it seems to me that even us divers (some of us)are oblivious to this potencial danger so where is the hse and all its powers on such an everyday sales item as a helium balloon?maybe they are too busy spending there goverment revenue on putting warnings andadverts telling us that salt and too much sun etc are harmfull to us all?makes us think they are maybe taking the easy(lazy)option on keeping our lives safe?well thats what they are paid to do is it not?so it looks like we are on our own when it comes to keeping ourselves/our offspring safe so if some of us had tried a little bit harder on learning the basic physics/understanding about the gases that we as divers chooose to breathe(on our diving courses) instead of trying to gain another badge!!!!!!!!!!! some of us would possibly think before we posted another load of disinformation that newbie divers or members of the non diving public could read and take(mistakingly)as fact so come on guys/girls lets all do a bit of reasearch on issues before we ad lib or make quotes on posts like these cos like it or not it influences other people!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
What the difference in cost / impurities between diving grade He and Balloon gas He? Anyone know? Is it worth getting friendly with a balloon salesperson? :D
 

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What the difference in cost / impurities between diving grade He and Balloon gas He? Anyone know? Is it worth getting friendly with a balloon salesperson? :D
Definitely NOT and I hope that post was meant as tongue-in-cheek and no-one contemplates your suggestion. Whatever the difference in cost is - so be it - the real issue is life or death. Diving has enough inherent hazards without messing with gas that may have contaminants that you know nothing about. Buy helium/mix from a reputable source and you're safe, buy from anywhere else and you're chancing it.

As an aside; There is hardly anywhere (came across it in Trinidad this year) in the offshore diving world where pure He can be found. We only accept He with 2% O2 offshore due to the risks mentioned by Leigh G.

A. Berk
 

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I work for the gases company mentioned earlier (BOC) and i would STRONGLY advise anyone not to mess about with baloon gas , i am not 100% but dont think that it goes through the same stringent quality checks that other medical ie breathable gases go through. Sorry to be a killjoy but there you are , i would rarther this than read about someone having an incident.
 

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I have looked quite deeply into this, and have contacted lots of suppliers, both UK and International, to find out how much variation there is in O2 content.
Several manufacturers list their gas content as helium and air.
When I questioned the content, I was told it had 21 percent O2.
When I further questioned them, I was told that the mix was 98.5 percent helium and the rest was air and that therefore there, was 21 percent O2 in the mix!!
Even their tech dept could not get their heads round the fact that the actual gas percentage was 21 percent of 1.5 percent, and therefore not life sustaining!!
I checked, and re checked and the answer is always the same.
I have contacted the HSE, The DTI (except its it not that any more), British Standards Institute, European Standards, trading standards, ANYBODY I could think of who can tell me whether there is some kind of regulatory body who would oversee standards, because I cannot believe that supplying an asphyxiant to the general public is not regulated somehow.
The HSE have been looking into it for me, because they can't believe it either, but SO far, they can only find regulations for dealing with the gas is in a working environment.
There are regulations to cover WORKING with helium, these include having breathing apparatus, because it's an asphyxiant, and all the regulations covering storage, (cylinder maintenance etc), but, so far, NOTHING covering supplying the gas to Joe public, not even so much as a warning label.

THIS CANNOT BE RIGHT.

I will keep looking, and let you know what happens, but it's bloody frightening, don't you think??
 

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I have looked quite deeply into this, and have contacted lots of suppliers, both UK and International, to find out how much variation there is in O2 content.
Several manufacturers list their gas content as helium and air.
When I questioned the content, I was told it had 21 percent O2.
When I further questioned them, I was told that the mix was 98.5 percent helium and the rest was air and that therefore there, was 21 percent O2 in the mix!!
Even their tech dept could not get their heads round the fact that the actual gas percentage was 21 percent of 1.5 percent, and therefore not life sustaining!!
I checked, and re checked and the answer is always the same.
I have contacted the HSE, The DTI (except its it not that any more), British Standards Institute, European Standards, trading standards, ANYBODY I could think of who can tell me whether there is some kind of regulatory body who would oversee standards, because I cannot believe that supplying an asphyxiant to the general public is not regulated somehow.
The HSE have been looking into it for me, because they can't believe it either, but SO far, they can only find regulations for dealing with the gas is in a working environment.
There are regulations to cover WORKING with helium, these include having breathing apparatus, because it's an asphyxiant, and all the regulations covering storage, (cylinder maintenance etc), but, so far, NOTHING covering supplying the gas to Joe public, not even so much as a warning label.

THIS CANNOT BE RIGHT.

I will keep looking, and let you know what happens, but it's bloody frightening, don't you think??


fookin ell where do we send the cotton wool to pad/protect you from real life.

there are no regulations about selling glass to people but you can cut yourself quite badly on a bit of broken glass so maybe we should regulate that. same for selling a car to somebody - no regs or laws on that, although the garage will ask for a copy of the licence of the person who will drive it away- these can also kill people shall we regulate that too.

hammers have no regs and they are dangerous if used incorrectly.

shall I continue or have we got the point now.

we don't need anymore pointless "elf'n safety" rules or regs, the existing ones are being stupidly applied by certain mebers of the dive industry.
 

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Important!

Just as a quick PS to the other post, there has been mention of medical grade gases.

I am constantly hearing divers, both students and some experienced divers, say 'there are three grades of O2, Industrial, diving and Medical, so if diving grade is purer than industrial, medical grade must be better'

For anybody who doesn't know this, medical grade O2 contains CO2 in order to ensure that the breathing reflex is not suppressed.

MEDICAL GRADE OXYGEN IS NOT SAFE TO USE AS A DIVING GAS.
 

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fookin ell where do we send the cotton wool to pad/protect you from real life.

there are no regulations about selling glass to people but you can cut yourself quite badly on a bit of broken glass so maybe we should regulate that. same for selling a car to somebody - no regs or laws on that, although the garage will ask for a copy of the licence of the person who will drive it away- these can also kill people shall we regulate that too.

hammers have no regs and they are dangerous if used incorrectly.

shall I continue or have we got the point now.

we don't need anymore pointless "elf'n safety" rules or regs, the existing ones are being stupidly applied by certain mebers of the dive industry.

Yes, but the general public generally know that glass will cut you, and that if you hit yourself with a hammer, it will hurt.

What they DON'T know is that breathing helium from a kids balloon can kill.
And since it's generally kids that will endulge in this party trick, it might be nice if it didn't kill them, dont you think???!!!

I agree, I don't want to be wrapped up in cotton wool, I didn't advocate banning helium balloons, but adding enough O2 so it doesn't kill you might be a teensy bit sensible.

Would you let your kids, or the next door neighbour's kids drink bleach? Why not?
Because it's poisonous and carries a warning and you therefore know it can be harmful.:angry:
 

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It's the same (well, not exactly the same) as buying a 100ml carton of orange juice that says it contains 100pc pure orange

Yes, it does
I contains 10ml of 100pc pure orange juice and 90ml of water

When I looked into Helium of it's effects last year, I found a video a guy whos aim was to die and he had writen quite an extensive paper on how it works and purity contents

I looked for it again just over a month ago and it seems to have been removed with many other things in that category
 

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Yes, but the general public generally know that glass will cut you, and that if you hit yourself with a hammer, it will hurt.

What they DON'T know is that breathing helium from a kids balloon can kill.
And since it's generally kids that will endulge in this party trick, it might be nice if it didn't kill them, dont you think???!!!

I agree, I don't want to be wrapped up in cotton wool, I didn't advocate banning helium balloons, but adding enough O2 so it doesn't kill you might be a teensy bit sensible.

Would you let your kids, or the next door neighbour's kids drink bleach? Why not?
Because it's poisonous and carries a warning and you therefore know it can be harmful.:angry:
and the balloon bottles say on them in quite large letters- DO NOT BREATHE.ASPHYXIATION WILL OCCUR.
you don't need to understand what asphyxiate means its the first bit that all will understand. if you have this type of product in your house and don't store it away from inquisitive kids then you really are stupid.

shall we regulate bleach now, as it seems the general jist of your posts is thatwe are all stupid and should be protected against stupidity by legislation, something which, working for a multinational company I know you cannot do as there will always be some stupid eejit that ignores all the safety advice.
Personally I don't know any divers who use trimix that don't analyse the mix to see what % He is in the tin just in case the filling monkey has cocked it up, and any home blenders are likely to have the He safely under control.

but maybe I have common sense, and actualy do read the warnings on the packaging before using things.
 

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and the balloon bottles say on them in quite large letters- DO NOT BREATHE.ASPHYXIATION WILL OCCUR.
you don't need to understand what asphyxiate means its the first bit that all will understand. if you have this type of product in your house and don't store it away from inquisitive kids then you really are stupid.

shall we regulate bleach now, as it seems the general jist of your posts is thatwe are all stupid and should be protected against stupidity by legislation, something which, working for a multinational company I know you cannot do as there will always be some stupid eejit that ignores all the safety advice.
Personally I don't know any divers who use trimix that don't analyse the mix to see what % He is in the tin just in case the filling monkey has cocked it up, and any home blenders are likely to have the He safely under control.

but maybe I have common sense, and actualy do read the warnings on the packaging before using things.
Go and buy a hellium balloon. It carries no warnings.
Tesco don't sell J bottles of helium. Just the balloons. And whilst a lot of divers do know about helium, some don't.
And Joe Public doesn't.
This thread had nothing to do with storing helium at home, or buying J bottles, or analysing your own gas.
IT'S ABOUT HELIUM BALLOONS.
 

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Go and buy a hellium balloon. It carries no warnings.
Tesco don't sell J bottles of helium. Just the balloons. And whilst a lot of divers do know about helium, some don't.
And Joe Public doesn't.
This thread had nothing to do with storing helium at home, or buying J bottles, or analysing your own gas.
IT'S ABOUT HELIUM BALLOONS.
Yes, balloons inflated with helium.

I take all these very seriously and I'm not minimising it at all, but ..... how come so many people, myself included, have breathed from these balloons for the childish fun of talking, and laughing, with a squeaky voice and are still fine?

I'm not arguing the severity of this or the previous posts saying it's 100% He and will/can kill you I just don't understand how we're all okay and I've not actually heard of death associated with this act.
I can only conclude that the helium used isn't really 100%

I remember Jim Davison doing it on prime time TV decades ago. Reasonably confident someone would have created a stink if the balloon gas was definitely fatal
 

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and the balloon bottles say on them in quite large letters- DO NOT BREATHE.ASPHYXIATION WILL OCCUR.
you don't need to understand what asphyxiate means its the first bit that all will understand. if you have this type of product in your house and don't store it away from inquisitive kids then you really are stupid.

shall we regulate bleach now, as it seems the general jist of your posts is thatwe are all stupid and should be protected against stupidity by legislation, something which, working for a multinational company I know you cannot do as there will always be some stupid eejit that ignores all the safety advice.
Personally I don't know any divers who use trimix that don't analyse the mix to see what % He is in the tin just in case the filling monkey has cocked it up, and any home blenders are likely to have the He safely under control.

but maybe I have common sense, and actualy do read the warnings on the packaging before using things.

Hi

What Leigh is saying is that the thread was about Helium filled Balloons, not diving cylinders, or any other gas cylinder! it is the straight simple fact that a child can buy a balloon (which has no warning) and die from just sucking the gas out of it as they think its funny to talk like donald duck! we have all done it i am sure but this thread shows just how dangerous this can really be !!

Yes glass is dangerous and we know we can cut our hand on it, but if its ground up, put in food then fed to us without a warning are we then to blame for eating it??

If what Leigh has put in motion with this worry saves one child then it was well worth bringing it to everyones attention IMO

Kevin
 

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Yes, balloons inflated with helium.

I take all these very seriously and I'm not minimising it at all, but ..... how come so many people, myself included, have breathed from these balloons for the childish fun of talking, and laughing, with a squeaky voice and are still fine?

I'm not arguing the severity of this or the previous posts saying it's 100% He and will/can kill you I just don't understand how we're all okay and I've not actually heard of death associated with this act.
I can only conclude that the helium used isn't really 100%

I remember Jim Davison doing it on prime time TV decades ago. Reasonably confident someone would have created a stink if the balloon gas was definitely fatal
There are a couple of reports of people dying on it. If I can find the links I will post them.
 

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There are standard's , very tightly controlled , regarding the supply of "breathing gases" and as Baloon gas, which you are confusing with actual Helium, are to all purposes very different. And as someone said earlier there are different grades of oxygen , of which medical has to be above 99.5% oxygen with about 9 other components being measured in parts per million (PPM) carbon dioxide being less than 5 PPM . Any person who wants to be supplied with "medical " gas is vetted as its classed as a controlled drug by the medical authorities when used for breathing in a medical situation ,and its production and bottling are subject to constant testing , recording, and retesting before it even leaves our site for a hospital. Hope this helps , however you cant legislate for idiocy (and the end user ie baloon shop owner/ sales assistant will be aware of the hazzard's and should tell you that its an asphixiant some where allong the line) but once its in your hands , common sense some times seems to go out the window !
 
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