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Could Balloon Releases Be Banned?
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Could Balloon Releases Be Banned?

There has been a lot of controversy over balloon releases and the effects on wildlife and the environment. They are portrayed as causing death to creatures from land, air and sea as well as causing littering. I agree that all these things are happening but it is almost definitely due to the misuse of balloons and not from organised releases.

First I would like to point out that I am an animal lover and support the environment. I would never even consider organising a balloon release if I thought that it would cause a problem for someone or something else, anywhere else in the world! Tragically animals, birds and small animal are dying from balloons and this has to stop but we need to concentrate on educating people on how to use balloons responsibly not to ban balloon releases.

Balloon releases are one of those things that will make just about anyone smile. You start off with a large net of trapped balloons and then on cue they are released, a colourful mass of balloons drifting into the sky which most people will strain to watch until they become a tiny speck in the sky. Balloon releases also do a wonderful job raising lots of money for charity every year and bringing commercial awareness at product launches and business start-ups. They are also a good source of income for companies than organise them.

There are two types of balloons – latex and foil (mylar), latex are biodegradeable, foils are not and should NEVER under any circumstances be released and need to be attached to a weight at all times to stop them floating away. In California this is actual law!

When a balloon is filled with helium it floats because helium is lighter than air. So when a balloon is filled with helium and released it will keep rising into the air because of the helium. It will rise to about 5 miles into the air where the balloon will shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces that fall down to earth at the rate of about 1 piece every 5 miles. These pieces are so small that they won’t do any damage to wildlife or cause littering and will biodegrade quite quickly. However anything attached to the balloon won’t shatter but will simply fall to earth which is why it is so important that you don’t attach anything to the balloons that won’t biodegrade.

Balloons that aren’t fully inflated, have things attached to them that could get caught on trees and bushes or are filled with air won’t float up into the atmosphere and shatter and potentially it is these that are a risk to wildlife. These balloons are more likely to be from a child who has taken a balloon home from a party and accidently let it go or has just been discarded. They may have come from a do-it-yourself release that hadn't been properly researched but it is highly unlikely that they came from an organised balloon release.

Turtles are believed to mistake balloons for jelly fish and ingest large pieces and whole balloons, this situation will not be affected by banning balloon releases because these balloons would not have been involved in any balloon release. We have to stop this happening but this has to be by educating the public. We presently have to include a warning on bags of balloons about risks to children under 8 perhaps disposal instructions should be included too – but banning balloon releases isn’t the answer.


Street Talk

Thanks for this great information Sue Mathieson.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Wow, I'm glad you've put me straight because I have read articles about the turtles and I honestly thought that balloon releases should be banned

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Exactly, the turtles need to be saved but banning balloon releases won't help educate all the other people who are just discarding balloons that will no longer float

Reply
  about 6 years ago

I was surprised to read about the effects of balloon releases on the environment. I am glad to hear Mylar balloons are not part of balloon releases in California. I enjoy watching balloons also, whether they be small balloons or hot air balloons.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Mylar balloons shouldn't be released anywhere in the world but in California there is a law that each mylar balloon has to have a weight attached to it at all times to shop then accidentally floating away. If you create an arrangement of 3 mylar balloons they all have to have their own weigh attached in case one comes loose.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Educating people on how to use balloons properly is the answer, not banning balloon releases - this is really a good point. Sometimes people blame all things to something without doing their own research. Thanks for your enlightenment here.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

You're welcome, it always pays to find out all the facts before making a decision

Reply
  about 6 years ago

thanks for the info! I didn't know there were two types of balloons, and which one was appropriate for balloon releases so they don't affect our environment. With this article, you've cleared things up for me.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Yes latex (rubber) balloons are completely natural and 100% biodegradeable - glad I could be of help :)

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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