What goes up can kill wildlife: Reminders on the dangers of balloon releases

Ahead of a big festival this weekend in Smith Mountain Lake, authorities in Virginia are reminding people that throwing balloons into the air as part of a celebration is illegal unless all material is biodegradable.

Ahead of a big festival this weekend in Smith Mountain Lake, authorities in Virginia are reminding people that throwing balloons into the air as part of a celebration is illegal unless all material is biodegradable.

The Department of Wildlife Resources said it was prepared to enforce the law, which applies to people 16 and older, or adults who orchestrate balloon releases by young people. The fine is $25 per balloon.

Virginia isn’t alone: ​​Maryland is also banning balloon releases, suggesting alternatives such as bubbles, kites, or eco-friendly “confetti” such as birdseed, flower petals, or dried leaves. . Anyone aged 13 or over is subject to a fine of up to $100 per infraction when they release 10 or more balls.



DC sometimes bans balloons at outdoor events, but there are no laws against launching them into the air.

In Delaware, the release of four or fewer balloons is considered trash, with a fine of at least $25. Five or more balloons can cost $250 in fines and up to eight hours of community service for one. first offense.

What goes up must come down, and plastic pollution from balloons has impacted everything from beach crabs at Horses of Assateague Island and sea turtles, which helps explain why the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration orchestrated campaigns to prevent the practice.

An online search for “biodegradable balloons” on Amazon yields over 1,000 results.

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