With a unanimous vote Tuesday, Queen Anne’s County became the first in the state to ban the intentional release of non-biodegradable balloons into the atmosphere which results in pollution of the environment and has been shown to be harmful to wildlife.
“Intentionally releasing balloons into the atmosphere is nothing short of littering,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Christopher M. Corchiarino. “This ordinance will allow us to protect a cross-section of interests in the county while furthering the stewardship of our waterways and rural landscapes.”
Jay Falstad, Executive Director of Queen Anne’s Conservation Association said, “Deflated mylar and latex balloons, and the ribbons attached to them, harm the environment by maiming and killing wildlife, sea creatures, and farm animals. The balloons are often mistaken for food, and marine animals especially, such as turtles and birds, become tangled in the ribbons and are killed. This ordinance is a major accomplishment, and I couldn’t be more proud that Queen Anne’s County is taking the lead on this important environmental issue.”
The releasing numbers of balloons is sometimes part of celebrations such as graduations or conversely, are used symbolically to pay tribute to those who have passed away. But Falstad said the cumulative effects of these releases are beginning to be recognized as an increasingly harmful form of environmental pollution.
“Balloon releases are a nationwide problem,” said Falstad. “Non-biodegradable balloons in trees or farm-fields, or in the Chesapeake Bay or any other waterway, including the Atlantic Ocean, are a growing, if still not widely realized, environmental threat.”
Ordinance 19-13 establishes fines of up to $250. It also excludes the use of a pilot balloon (pibal) used by hot air balloon pilots to determine meteorological conditions such as wind speed and direction.