Balloons floating around will light up any children’s party. Even as adults we may find them interesting. Hydrogen and helium are popularly used in floating balloons. Many of us would have come across them at least once in our lives and some of us may even have made them at home. However, most of us are not aware of the dangers associated with it.
Dangers of hydrogen gas
Hydrogen can be prepared at home by simply reacting aluminium foil with sink cleaning crystals (Sodium hydroxide). Care should be taken when handling the cleaning crystals as they can burn your hands. A safer method is to pass the current from a 9-volt battery through a bowl of water using metal wires. Hydrogen will be generated from the end of the wire. Either way, preparing and collecting hydrogen should be done with care as it is highly volatile and the most flammable of known gases. When exposed to heat or a flame it can explode in air. Most people are aware of this, so they usually use Dubai helium balloons instead of hydrogen ones for parties.
Inhalation of too much hydrogen can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness, but usually this is not a problem. As explained later no one intentionally tries to inhale it, unlike helium.
Dangers of helium gas
We are aware that hydrogen is explosive, so we generally take the necessary precautions. However, we do not know the risks associated with helium, so we unintentionally put ourselves in harm’s way. Helium cannot be prepared at home, so helium balloons have to be purchased.
Other than as a decoration, helium balloons are used in parties to make people’s voices sound funny. It’s an old party trick where someone would inhale helium from the balloon and it would temporarily give him a squeaky voice. Despite its popularity this trick can be fatal.
A mild overdose of helium can make a person unconscious for some time without any known long term effects. A heavy dose can cause an embolism. An embolism is where blood vein is blocked by a mass that travels through it. The mass can be an air bubble, fat globule, blood clot or any other foreign material. An embolism can result in an infarction (irreversible death of tissue), stroke or even death. Most of us are not aware of this and even media only promotes the fun part of inhaling helium to get a good laugh.
As adults we have to be aware of the potential dangers of using gas balloons in our households. Thus we could educate our children on how to have fun with these balloons without causing any harm.