Helium shortage bursting balloon business in N.S.

A global helium shortage is deflating the summer party season for Nova Scotia retailers.

Air Liquide is one of the companies that supply helium, for things like balloons, in Nova Scotia.

A company representative says the shortage is driven by rising demand, extended plant shut downs in the U.S., and major depletion of an American source of helium.

Paul Rhyno, owner of Partys R Us in Halifax, says his supplier has a limited helium supply causing the price to increase by 15 to 20 per cent.

Now he's steering people toward air balloons that are cheaper and come in unlimited supply. He says shoppers are scaling back.

"It's kind of a week to week thing. Our supplier has [a] very limited amount left. Helium is used a lot in the medical field and balloon helium, from my understanding is sort of the waste helium that cannot be used there," said Rhyno.

"Obviously [when] there's no medical helium, there's no balloon helium so we just sort of get the leftovers."

Helium is used to cool down MRI scanners, but health officials said the shortage is not affecting patients in the city.

A representative for Capital Health said their supplier has reduced the capacity of the tanks, but that has had zero effect on operations or the number of people they can see.

New supplies of helium are expected to become available next year, and should help keep up with helium demand in the future.