Environment
11:48 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Balloon Release Dangers

Releasing clusters of balloons into the sky has become a common way to mark a special occasion or call attention to an issue, but the balloons are creating an issue of their own. 

Robbie Harris reports.

You’ve seen them floating in the sky; those small helium balloons wafting for miles on the breeze, but where the balloons end up afterwards, is causing problems.

Retired Virginia Tech Professor Joan Kark is one of the founders of group aimed at stopping the balloon releases.  “When people purchase these large volumes of balloons, the manufacturer says that they are biodegradable, so no problem, don’t worry about it.  But they take too long to degrade and so they’re out there in the environment, as litter for one thing, but also animals, birds turtles, whales, dolphins, they all eat it; they mistake it for food.”

The balloons often end up in rivers or streams, ultimately making their way to the ocean.  Not only can they harm wildlife, but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, balloons are the number one cause of suffocation for children.

The organizers of the group working to stop balloon releases will present a multi-media program, open to the public at the Blacksburg library, October 22 at 7 pm.