Balloons and our Planet
There are two types of balloons : Latex and Foils
Latex balloons are 100% Biodegradable, made from the sap of Rubber Trees the balloons Biodegrade in about the same time as an Oak Leaf. Latex balloons are the only balloons used in balloon releases. Latex balloon releases conducted by professional balloon companies are not harmful to the environment. Biodegradable latex balloons are used exclusively by professionals, and these are released without strings, clips, discs, ribbons or any other objects attached. The exception to this is the use of recycled card for balloon release race labels. The labels are designed to biodegrade if not found and returned as part of the competition. latex balloons rise high into the atmosphere where 90% of them brittle fracture, these balloons fall harmlessly back to earth in tiny shattered fragments.
Stray balloons which have been found on beaches are always found with some object attached, even as simple as a ribbon. Most often, the balloons found are a mixture of latex and foil, tied in a cluster. balloons like these are not used in releases. These are accidental stray balloons, set adrift usually by accident.
A professional balloon company would attach a weight to all helium filled balloons not intended for release. This prevents any balloons from accidentally becoming strays.
Latex balloons do not kill animals. Although the reverse has been widely reported as fact in newspapers across the country, factual evidence proves otherwise. The fact is, after four years, researchers have been unable to locate a single study supporting the claim that latex balloons kill. Animal activists making the claim have refused to supply balloon industry representatives with documented proof. As early as 1988, a US district court examined evidence supplied by environmental activists and subsequently exonerated balloons from any probable harm to the Environment.
Animals do not choke or die from latex balloon ingestion. Two studies conducted by the University of Miami disprove claims of death due to balloon ingestion. In these studies, sea turtles were deliberately fed pieces of latex balloons. In all cases, the ingested latex was passed by the turtles. None of the turtles choked on the balloons. Leading turtle researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The University of Texas and the Okeanos Ocean Research are on record with public statements exonerating balloons from probable cause of sea turtle deaths. Their statements further support that there is no evidence, which allows them to state that latex balloons kill Animals.
Q. balloons have been found ingested in sea Animals. True ?
A. Yes, that is true. However while it may be true that some animals may have eaten balloons, latex is non-toxic, and the dyes used in colouring balloons are non-toxic.
Q. Is it true that balloons kill sea turtles ?
A. No. Research proves that sea turtles pass balloons.
Q. Don’t balloons block the intestines of sea animals?
A. No one, to date, has provided any conclusive proof that latex balloons have been the primary cause of death in any marine life, due to blocked intestines or in other ways.
There are fewer balloons manufactured than plastic bags, six-pack rings, fishing line, foam cups and containers, surgical gloves, and a multitude of truly damaging rubbish. Besides, balloons are not plastic ! Remember, they are made of latex which is the product or rubber tree sap and has natural properties that allow it to biodegrade.
How long does it take for a balloon to biodegrade?
Oxidation is the first step in the breakdown of a latex balloon and it begins within approximately on hour of inflation. Research was carried out in July 1989 with a variety of balloons under various conditions and it concluded that the breakdown time for balloons is about the same time as for an oak leaf.
A study carried out in July 1989 reported that 90-95% of the latex balloons released into the atmosphere rose to an altitude of approximately five miles, at this altitude two things happen to the balloons.
The temperature at that altitude is 40° below zero. The balloon actually freezes and becomes brittle.
The air pressure decreases to the extent that the helium in the balloon expands and causes the balloon to burst. The combination of these two effects of high altitude leaves the balloon in a shattered state called Brittle Fracture. What this means is that the balloon is reduced to pieces of natural rubber the size of a penny that fall back to the earth to finish decomposing.
There is no evidence to suggest that all balloons released fall to the ocean. The jet stream and wind currents determine the direction that an airborne Helium-filed balloon may take.
Lets take a look at what we’re talking about with regard to the number of balloons that fall into the Oceans:
It requires 28 million balloons, inflated to full capacity to cover only one square mile. If the 12,000 known balloon companies across the U.S.A. were to release 1,000 balloons each at the same time, and they were to all fall in the same place, at the same time, they would cover less than half of one square mile.
To date, the largest single balloon release was 1.4 million balloons. If all of these had fallen in one place at one time they would have covered approximately one twentieth of a square mile.
In light of the fact that fewer than 5-10% of the balloons released ever reach the ocean intact, this number is almost inconsequential.
On October 20th 1988 the United States court in Seattle, Washington ruled against environmentalists attempting to stop a balloon release. The court found that there was no probable cause that balloons harm the environment. Activists claim that sea turtles mistake balloons for jellyfish. This is pure speculation and there has never been a scientific study on how turtles think about food. Further more, when latex balloons are released properly, more than 90% incur Brittle Fracture, falling in harmless fragments.