Friends of the Bay Talks Balloons

An innocent balloon can become a hazard, and an eyesore, in the natural environment. (Photos courtesy Christine Suter)

Did you know that balloons are one of the most frequently found items at beach cleanups and by boaters?

What goes up must come down. Every helium-filled balloon released into the air returns to the ground or the sea to become litter.

Every part of the balloon, from the latex or mylar to the ribbon, can be harmful to wildlife. Even so-called biodegradable balloons are not truly biodegradable and will only break apart into smaller pieces that can be ingested by animals.

An animal can easily choke on a balloon or pieces of it can become lodged in its digestive system, preventing it from processing food. It’s easy enough for a human to mistake a balloon floating in the water for a jellyfish, so you can imagine how a hungry turtle can mistake a balloon for its next meal.
Furthermore, animals, especially birds, can become entangled in the ribbons that are attached to balloons.

Suffolk County and numerous states and municipalities have banned the intentional release of balloons into the atmosphere.
There is currently a bill pending in the New York State Legislature to ban the intentional release of any helium or lighter than air balloons starting in January of 2023.

Choose bubbles or some other safe way to celebrate. The waterways and the animals who live there will thank you for it.

—Submitted by Friends of the Bay

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