Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Deadly balloons

Just when you think you’ve heard all the ways we’re messing up nature comes news of yet another problem: balloons.

Yes, those symbols of childhood festivities are killing fish, birds, and even sea turtles. A full-page feature in the latest issue of Connecticut Wildlife points out that helium-filled balloons can travel miles, frequently ending up in the ocean. Fish and sea turtles see a popped balloon, think its food, and eat it. The result is a blocked digestive system and death.

Birds often grab the washed-ashore strings as nesting material, but these strings too often get wound around the birds – both parents and nestlings – resulting in strangulation or starvation. Swimming waterfowl can become entangled in the floating strings.

The problem is serious enough that Connecticut passed a law, making it illegal to launch 10 or more helium balloons in a 24-hour period.

So the next time you throw a birthday party, keep the balloons, as well as the kids, under control.

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