Another reason to skip balloons for birthdays and other celebrations: There is a helium shortage. It’s expected that helium gas will be gone by the year 2020 if used at current levels. Why is this important? Helium gas is used for more than just balloons -- in science (especially the science of cryogenics), helium gas is used in high-energy accelerators, arc welding and silicon wafer manufacturing. The high melting and boiling points of helium also make it a unique natural element for scientific research. As the government creates helium reserves to save the precious gas, the easiest thing for consumers to do to help is to simply say no to helium-filled balloons.