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Shelf life of helium ?

If one purchases a helium pack for future rather than immediate use, I
should think it would be important to know what the shelf life of the
helium in the tanks is. Perhaps one would be advised instead to wait and
buy a pack when the need is more immediate.

However, with increasing awareness by merchants and do-gooder
government and anti-euthanasia enthusiasts, we should be concerned that
there will be a decreaSing market supply of helium in the fairly near

With this thought in mind, it seems important to know the durability of
helium across time. An added factor here, besides possible breakdown of
the gas, is the factor of potential leakage from the cylinder. It isn’t
like pentobarbital that exists in a sealed vacumn. Information would be

———JM, Vernon, CT

Author of ‘Final Exit’ responds: We do not scientifically know the exact
shelf-life of helium within a ‘party balloon kit’. But as it is
obviously a toy, a plaything, likely to be used up pretty quickly, the
tanks are not built to high engineering standards. I would think that
stored for 2-3 years in a cool, dark place, not tampered with, they
would be all right. But perhaps some of the scientists and engineers on
this blog could speak more knowledgeably to this question? Please
do. — Derek Humphry

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