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Balloon Time Helium - WARNING

 

CAPTION: Testing the purity of Balloon Time Helium in Auckland 2014

The largest manufacturer of disposable helium cylinders, Worthingtons in Columbus, Ohio, who make Balloon Time kits have announced on its website that from April 2015 their cylinders will guarantee only 80% helium, with up to 20% air. While an 80:20 helium:air mixture is suitable for floating party balloons, its use to provide a peaceful death is lost.

Exit Director, Dr Philip Nitschke, said that these changes had long been flagged. In 2011 NZ Coroner, Ian Smith, examined the death of 37-year old Kyle McIntosh, and an unnamed 23-year old Wellington man, who both died using Balloon Time helium. In his findings, Mr Smith recommended that this gas be combined with 10% oxygen.

In June 2014 in Auckland, Dr Nitschke conducted gas purity testing using Balloon Time helium sourced from various centres in New Zealand. At that time, all cylinders tested were found to have oxygen contamination levels of < 0.5%.

Exit recommends that those with recently-acquired Balloon Time cylinders either test the gas to ensure that there is no oxygen contamination. Alternatively, the cylinders should be discarded and replaced with a reliable alternative like Max Dog nitrogen, where the purity of the gas (& absence of any oxygen) is guaranteed by the distributors.

At this stage it is not clear if the manufacturers of Balloon Time's equivalent products, such as BOC/ Tesco product marketed in the UK will follow suit. Purity testing of BOC Balloon Time clones will take place this week. Results will published in the May 2015 update to the Peaceful Pill eHandbook along with the gas purity testing procedure, including the equipment required.

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