Have you ever been to a party and inhaled helium in an attempt to sound like Donald Duck? If so, you have probably put your life at risk!

Evidence has proven that the inhalation of helium can be fatal, yet thousands of party goers continue to inhale helium thinking it to be incredibly funny rather than life threatening. The inhalation of helium cuts off a person's supply of oxygen and can cause dizziness, unconsciousness and ultimately death!

Doctors around Australia are concerned about the health risk associated with people inhaling helium. This is a particular problem when people are inebriated and their system is already contending with an outside influence.

The secret killer

According to Consultant Occupational Health Physician, Dr Greg McGroder, "Australians have not yet realised the extreme danger associated with helium inhalation. If the concentration of oxygen is decreased below 18% within the human body, symptoms and signs of asphyxia can occur. Helium gas can totally displace the available oxygen and if this is maintained for even a few seconds, asphyxia and death can and will occur".

In 1998, fifteen year old Michelle Moreno from Texas died from helium inhalation at a friend's party. Her death caused major headlines regarding the dangers of helium inhalation.

In Australia, Kristi Brash from Victoria had a near death experience when she appeared to freeze and turn blue after inhaling the entire contents of a balloon. Kristi fell motionless to the floor but luckily regained consciousness after a few minutes. Kristi was rushed to hospital and after examination she appeared to be fine, although any long term affects of the inhalation are yet to be determined.

Media misrepresentation

Comedy television and radio programmes often use helium as a device to get laughs. This portrays helium inhalation as a fun, safe practice when, in effect, it is deadly. Public figures are influential in the minds of the public and they need to realise that they could either die from helium use or be indirectly responsible for the death of another.

BASA Australasia is deeply concerned about the misuse of Balloon Gas and is going to great efforts to inform the public that helium inhalation can be fatal. Unfortunately with people continuing to ignore the dangers of this potentially lethal practice, it is a difficult task to educate the public that HELIUM INHALATION IS NO LAUGHING MATTER!

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