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The first thing to say about breathing in helium is: DON'T DO IT! There are reported cases of people trying to have fun with the effect of this gas, but actually dying instead. It's not that helium is poisonous; it's actually the least reactive of all the chemical elements. The problem is simply that helium displaces the air from your lungs, and you need the oxygen in air to live
It can be. Breathing in pure helium deprives the body of oxygen, as if you were holding your breath. If you couldn't breathe at all, you'd start to die in minutes—as soon as your body exhausted the supply of oxygen stored in the blood. But helium speeds up this process: When the gas fills your lungs, it creates a diffusion gradient that washes out the oxygen. In other words, each breath of helium you take sucks more oxygen out of your system. After inhaling helium, the body's oxygen level can plummet to a hazardous level in a matter of seconds.