Balloons are flexible bags that can be inflated with gas such as; helium,hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen and air. Sometimes for special tasks they can be filled with water, smoke, granules or light sources. Balloons are made from rubber, latex, polychloroprene or nylon fabric. Michael Faraday invented the rubber balloons in 1824. Balloons have been used as a means of entertainment, for decoration, military defense, transportation and medical treatment. However, in the beginning balloons were made out of pig bladders which was good because they were completely biodegradable. Today we shall be looking at the balloons used mainly for entertainment. Balloon releases are local traditions at memorials, schools, weddings, and other events. Have you ever wondered where all these balloons that we use go after the party ? California alone sells 45-50 million balloons a year. This is just one state! How many balloons are sold everyday in the world? 100,000? 1,000,000? No one has an idea because they are that many. Let’s say the most common helium balloons have been released, it is all joyous and fun when the balloons are floating towards the sky as if they have no gravity. We laugh, we cheer, we celebrate… where do this balloons end up eventually? I’ll tell you then. These balloons end up in the oceans where they do not belong. Balloons are killing our marine life; our sea turtles, our dolphins, our whales, our fish and even our sharks. These balloons pose hazards to these animals due to ingestion and even entanglement. A sea turtle’s food is the jelly fish…Guess what else is shiny and colorful like the jelly fish? Balloons! Many sea turtles have fallen victim to these balloons and they eventually die, which may finally lead to the word that people are afraid of.. Extinction! Other marine animals have been known to die of starvation because the ingestion of balloons has led to the blockage of their digestive systems. When latex is produced it enhances the production of green house gases which is harmful to the environment. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere. When it strikes surfaces or gases that can absorb it, heat is emitted. You can feel the effect directly by holding your hand over dark asphalt or your car’s hood on a warm, sunny day. The surface feels hot. It is re-emitting the energy it received from the sun. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere behave in a similar way. They absorb heat energy rising from the Earth’s surface and re-emit some of that heat back down towards the ground. The effect is similar to how an actual greenhouse works, thus the name. Greenhouse gases act like the windows of a greenhouse, allowing light through but trapping heat inside. These gases eventually lead to global warming- the biggest challenge in the world right now. The next time the ice in the North pole is melting blame your balloon usage. The next time a sea turtle confuses a balloon for food and they go extinct… blame your balloons!
Barbara Michoma, The Traveling Mindset.