Four people sustained injuries after gas balloons being sold by a vendor burst in a market in Rajkot, Gujarat yesterday.
A video shared on Twitter by ANI shows a short clip of the balloons exploding in the middle of a busy market, seemingly without reason.
4 people sustained minor injuries after gas balloons burst in a market in Rajkot, Gujarat yesterday. pic.twitter.com/kMIVPkCXF2— ANI (@ANI) December 26, 2018
While further details are still awaited, it's clear from the above video that the balloons exploded with far more intensity than one would expect from a child's plaything, which usually goes bang instead of an actual explosion. So what happened?
Well, a little research (and some science) could offer a possible reason. Gas balloons are typically filled with Helium which, being lighter than air, allows them to rise. However, balloons can sometimes be filled with Hydrogen gas, which is even lighter than Helium, but is far more volatile and that's why it's not recommended.
Helium is an unusual gas called a Noble Gas, which means that it doesn’t burn. So when a lit match is held near a Helium-filled balloon, the balloon will just pop. But when a lit match is held close to a Hydrogen-filled balloon, there will be a real explosion, and this is because Hydrogen burns very easily and reacts violently to Oxygen.
So the lesson is that even though Hydrogen and Helium balloons look the same from the outside, they are very different on the inside, and that difference can be dangerous.