It's used by the military and in the medical field, but you probably know it better for its use filling balloons. But now there's a shortage of helium gas, and distributors say it's not likely to end soon.
At the Hyvee Store in Moline, the floral department doesn't have nearly the number of balloons floating around as it normally does. That's because it's saving all of its helium for customer orders.
Helium has been in short supply for about the past year, but recently, the situation has been getting worse. S.J. Smith Company in Davenport is one distributor having to decide who should get the supply available. The company has decided to cut off the supply of helium to customers who only use it to fill balloons, to focus on its medical and military customers, like the Rock Island Arsenal.
Helium is a bi-product of natural gas. Between plant shut-downs for maintenance and increased demand, the supply of helium is getting smaller. As a result, the price has doubled.
The company isn't sure how long the shortage will last but believes it could extend for another few years.