It is more commonly known as the gas that fills cheap party balloons and makes your voice squeak if you inhale it.
But helium is actually a precious resource that is being squandered with Earth's reserves of it due to run out within 25 to 30 years, experts have warned.
Earth’s resources of helium are being depleted at an astonishing rate, an effect which will spell disaster for hospitals which use it to cool MRI scanners.
The world's biggest store of helium - the most commonly used inert gas - lies in a disused airfield in Amarillo, Texas, and is being sold off far too cheaply.
But in 1996, the US government passed a law which states that the facility - the US National Helium Reserve - must be completely sold off by 2015 to recoup the price of installing it.
This means that the helium, a non-renewable gas, is being quickly sold off at increasingly cheap prices, making it uneconomical to recycle.
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