Helium gas linked to hundreds of deaths, figures show

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A total of 509 deaths involving the gas were registered between 2001 and 2016.

Helium has been linked to more than 500 deaths in Britain since the turn of the century, new figures show.

A total of 509 deaths involving the gas were registered between 2001 and 2016.

The Office for National Statistics said helium-related deaths have increased over time, rising from two in 2001 to a peak of 82 in 2014, before falling to 69 in 2016.

This equates to a mortality rate of one death per million of population in 2016.

More than one in four (27%) of the helium-related deaths registered between 2001 and 2016 were in people aged 50 to 69 years, and over four-fifths (84%) of those who died were males.

The report also detailed how there were 834 deaths involving “volatile substances” registered in England, Wales and Scotland between 2001 and 2016.


Volatile substances include fuel gases, aerosol propellants, some types of industrial glues, nitrous oxide, alkyl nitrites – also known as “poppers” – and some anaesthetics. Helium is not counted as a volatile substance.

The three most commonly mentioned substances were fuels – butane (191 deaths between 2001 and 2016), propane (68 deaths) and lighter fuel (47 deaths).

Accidents and suicides are counted in the figures, as well as deaths linked to substance abuse or dependence.

The data is compiled from analysis of reports by coroners, doctors and pathologists.

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