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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 29 November 2020

Sure, they look pretty - but charity balloon releases are killing birds and dolphins

Because what goes up has to come down sometime.

BIRDWATCH IRELAND HAS said it remains concerned about the ongoing impact of charity or promotional balloon releases on birds and other wildlife.

Such events are common, especially during the brighter summer months: dozens or hundreds of helium balloons are released into the air, to promote a product or raise awareness for a charity.

Organisations like the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group and the Irish Wildlife Trust joined a Birdwatch Ireland campaign in 2012 to highlight the impact of the practice on animals.

Chinese lanterns cause similar problems, according to the campaign:

“Balloon manufacturers may insist that balloon latex is biodegradable and that there is little to worry about, as the balloons will simply drift away and burst in the atmosphere.

shutterstock_220483819 Source: Shutterstock/Kelly vanDellen

“Similarly, many think that Chinese paper lanterns are fully biodegradable, forgetting about their metal wires and sharp bamboo frames.

“However, what goes up must come down and fragments still enter the environment, releasing toxins which accumulate and can be detected within the tissues of animals.

Furthermore, both balloons and lanterns can cause many different species of animal to become entangled, and can also result in serious risk of choking and environmental contamination.

According to research put together by the groups:

“Latex balloons can take six months to degrade, or up to twelve months in saltwater.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that latex can reside in stomachs of sea turtles for up to four months, prompting the Sea Turtle Foundation to propose a balloon ban.


The groups suggest a number of alternatives charities or companies could organise – like filling a car with balloons for a ‘guess how many?’ competition, or hiring a balloon artist.

ball Source: Birdwatch Ireland

Read Seagulls are not monsters – let’s stop the hysteria

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