By: Leah Henry
People intentionally release balloons into the environment to celebrate events and commemorate special occasions. Balloon debris often ends up in streams, rivers, and the ocean, where marine animals can ingest the balloons or become entangled by their attachments, causing injury and even death.
Although many people make the connection that when balloons go up they eventually come back down to Earth, others—even those who would never consider throwing a newspaper or candy wrapper on the ground—will release balloons accidentally or participate in a mass release of balloons without considering the end results.
To address this problem, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality partners with the NOAA Marine Debris Program on, A Rising Concern: Reducing Balloon Debris through Social Marketing, a Prevention through Education and Outreach project to reduce balloon litter in Virginia.