NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A nationwide helium shortage has made its way to Nashville, impacting not just balloon sales but the medical world as well.
"We have gotten to the point where we're counting down the number of balloons we have left to blow before we totally run out," said Mitch Taub who owns the party store Shindigs and Celebrations in Nashville.
This week Mitch has helium to fill his balloons but that hasn't been the case for the last few months. A number of party stores in Nashville can't even fill balloon orders right now because suppliers have run out of helium to send them.
"I guess it's like driving down the interstate and all of a sudden running out of gas, there you are and you're basically helpless," Mitch adds.
The nationwide shortage is being caused by a drop in production in Texas and Wyoming and experts are also blaming uncertain federal regulation on the price of helium as part of the shortage.
"It's a very big deal," says Rhonda Tully who directs the radiology department at Vanderbilt Hospital.
Rhonda and her teammates keep a close eye on helium levels because they use the inert gas to cool down magnets crucial for running MRI machines.
They are keeping a close eye on the shortage but so far, it hasn't affected them.
"Even though there is a shortage, we get top priority. We keep a very close eye on it because if it dips below a certain percentage, then the magnet will quench, which means it basically stops functioning."