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Balloon association reacts to Thortful decision

BAPIA explains impure helium cannot be used for mri scans

 

A balloon industry trade association has reacted to greeting card marketplace Thortful’s decision to turn down a £400,000 opportunity to stock foil helium versions, as revealed by PG Buzz.

In the article Thortful md Pip Heywood said she and the business believe it’s the right thing to do after its hard-hitting Instagram post explaining party decorations and celebrations are not the most pressing use for the world’s extremely limited supply of helium.

Above: John Bowler and his wife Sue run BAPIA supporting the balloon industry
Above: John Bowler and his wife Sue run BAPIA supporting the balloon industry

But John Bowler, ceo of Balloon And Party Industry Alliance (BAPIA), the UK’s largest trade organisation for the industry, responded yesterday, 10 April: “I read the Thortful article with interest and I was surprised they do not appear to have researched the matter thoroughly before making their decision.

“While it is great news that they have decided to leave the balloon market to the professionals, it does not help anybody to feed misinformation into the marketplace.”

Above & top: BOC supply various gases for business, including impure gaseous helium for the balloon industry
Above & top: BOC supply various gases for business, including impure gaseous helium for the balloon industry

In a series of seven text shots on Instagram the internet marketplace, where artists and publishers upload their card designs for sale to the public, admitted the cash would have been “a life-changing amount of money for our business” but added “it gave us the ick even to consider agreeing to it” as there are only around 10 years’ worth of the chemical element with the symbol He left on Earth, and it’s needed for mri scans, space shuttles and the pharmaceutical industry.

And Pip added that, as a carbon-balanced business through working with Proco, Premiere, World Land Trust and Ecologi, “to waste a precious and limited natural resource purely for financial gain did not feel very Thortful”.

Above: Thortful’s Instagram posts explaining its decision
Above: Thortful’s Instagram posts explaining its decision

However, BAPIA referred to information supplied by BOC Gases, part of one of the world’s largest gas companies, which explained there is a distinction between pure liquid helium, and impure gaseous helium, and that industrial gas suppliers prioritise supplies of pure liquid helium for critical medical uses such as mri scanners in hospitals, ensuring they can remain fully operational.

BOC said: “Helium for balloons is a different product. It is impure and gaseous, and produced as a by-product of supplying liquid helium for the mri market – a market that makes up a high percentage of the helium sold in the UK. Impure, gaseous helium cannot be used directly in medical mri scanners or in other applications that use super-conducting magnets.

Above: BAPIA has sustainability policies aimed at helping the planet
Above: BAPIA has sustainability policies aimed at helping the planet

“Industrial gas suppliers do support the recovery and reprocessing of helium to ensure that every opportunity is taken to recycle and reuse this important resource. Investments are being made globally to bring various new sources of helium on-stream and ensuring that helium, for all uses, will be available for the foreseeable future.”

John concluded: “Hopefully this helps to clarify the situation and will stop the scaremongering for a while and allow us all to get back to doing what we do best.”

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