Anyone who’s ever held a balloon knows what happens to helium. It rises.

For the people who sell those balloons, the helium isn’t the only thing rising – costs are, too.

At the Victoria Party Store in Kitchener, employees say their distributors have hiked their helium rates eight times in as many years.

Balloon prices, by contrast, have only gone up twice – which means a much smaller margin on one of the store’s most popular products.

“It’s not just the business of the balloons, but it’s the business that it brings in as well,” said Monali Patel.

“When people come in to pick up balloons, they look at all the other stuff we have … and then they’ll pick up items here and there.”

In recent months, helium prices have risen due to the low Canadian dollar.

While the world’s helium supply came primarily from a reserve in Texas for much of the 20th century, Qatar is now the world’s main producer.

Concerns of a worldwide shortage gripped the helium community in the early part of this decade – the party store even had to find a new supplier, because the two it regularly used both ran out – but those fears have largely since subsided.

“As long as there are uranium and other radioactive elements in the ground, they will keep producing helium,” said Bill Power, the head of the chemistry department at the University of Waterloo.

Helium is created when radioactive elements decay – a natural process that seems them break down into smaller elements.

In addition to balloons, it’s used in medical and scientific research.

Liquid helium, one of the coldest substances known to exist, is used to cool superconducting magnets and keep them cool.

Indirectly, Power said, helium could be responsible for the development of new batteries or pharmaceuticals.

“It’s still a precious resource,” he said.

“We want to be careful about how much we’re using.”

The current jump in helium prices is believed to be due to the low Canadian dollar, which makes importing it – or anything else – a pricier proposition.