The Truth about balloons

 Here are some frequently asked questions!

Q: Are balloon releases harmful?

A: When carried out properly latex balloon releases are fine.

Research shows that when a latex balloon release takes place most of the balloons (those that are correctly tied and have no structural flaws)  rise to an altitude of about five miles, where they freeze and break into small pieces that scatter as they return to earth.

Important Facts about latex balloon releases:

  • Only latex balloons are used by professionals in mass releases.  Industry guidelines require that these balloons are to be hand tied and have no attached strings or ribbons - each balloon is 100% biodegradeable.
  • Rarely do released balloons return to earth intact.  Studies show that these balloons usually rise to an altitude of about five miles.  At this point, freezing and air pressure causes 'brittle fracture' creating spaghetti-like pieces that scatter across a very wide distance.
  • While some balloons do not reach this altitude, research indicates that in an average 500-balloon release, the unexploded balloon return density is no greater than one per 15 square miles.
  • Research shows that regardless of the latex balloons ultimate form when it lands, it will decompose, forming a natural soil nutrientat the same rate as that of an oak leaf.
  • Foil balloons should NOT be released and should always be secured to a weight.
  • To view a study about the effectof balloon releases on the environment Click here

Q: Do balloons create a large amount of litter?

A: Latex balloons are 100% biodegradeable and do not make up for a large percentage of litter!

Balloons make up a miniscule proportion of litter found during organised clean ups that provide data on the types of litter. Balloon disposal labelling and good release management practices seem to be working well, as this data is also showing a downward trend in balloon litter.

Q: Is latex dangerous?

A: Most people do not suffer from latex allergies, and the balloon industry has created alternative products for those who are allergic.

 Latex is the milky sap produced by rubber trees.  Like many other natural things- Bee sting venom, poison ivy, peanuts - latex can cause allergy problems ranging from minor skin irritation to reactions so severs that immediate emergency medical treatment is required to prevent death.  However it is estimated that 94% of us will never have an allergic (anaphylactic) reaction to latex balloons.

Q: Are foil balloons a problem?

A: Foil balloons should never be released and the balloon industry is taking steps to educate retailers and consumers about appropriate use.

Foil balloons usually look metallic and they are more expensive than latex balloons.  The product is a synthetic, metallized plastic.nylon material which is recyclable, but not biodegradeable.  Consequently foil balloons are NEVER used in a release.

Occasionally helium-filled foil balloons do get released accidentally, however these incidents appear to be diminishing as a result of awareness campaigns to encourage the anchoring of these balloons to decorative weights.

 The balloon industry is intent on providing products that are fun and safe for everyone and do not conflict with the environment.  Industry leaders recognize that they have obligations to set industry standards that will help protect and preserve the environment, and provide consumers with information that will encourage them to use the product safely and responsibly and dispose of it properly.