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What happens to helium-filled balloons after you release them into the air? And technically, is it considered littering?

Additional Details

1 month ago

I%26#039;m asking because my little girl came home today very upset because a police officer got onto her for letting go of her balloon.

Best Answer

they gain altitude till they explode... the sun might do it, or many other factors.

as for littering, well, after it explodes the rubber fall back to earth and it will litter the place it landed on,
its a good point there... and i doubt there is a law enforcing it or seeing this action as littering, even when it does
Asker's Rating:
Well I will explain to her that letting go of balloons is not the best idea. Thanks!

Other Answers (11)

  • They eventually lose their gas and drop out of the sky. As 2/3 of the planet is water, many of them land in the water where marine animals mistake them for jelly fish (they don%26#039;t know what mylar is.) The may eat them and are unable to pass them.

    I volunteer for a marine mammal and sea turtle rescue center. We%26#039;ve seen dolphins and sea turtles that starved to death with bellies full of plastic. Many communities have outlawed deliberate balloon releases because of this.

    The police officer was correct.
  • Eventually they will pop or deflate, and fall either on land or into the ocean. In the ocean, sea creatures like dolphins, porpoises, and seals will try to eat it and choke to death. If you see one, pick it up and save a life. I do think it would be littering, since its not organic material that would be turned into compost. I know some people think its fun, and your kid was young and oblivious, but please, educate her and don%26#039;t do it. Thank you for asking, because sea creatures are suffering from our trash when they shouldn%26#039;t. An enviormentalist at Marin Headlands.
  • first, was it a regular balloon or one of the aluminized ones?
    there are several power outages every day because the aluminized ones short out power lines.

    as far as %26quot;technically, is it considered littering?%26quot; it would seem that you think, if you can%26#039;t see the litter, then it%26#039;s not litter.

    regular balloons, and most aluminum balloons, lose their helium over time and come down somewhere, depending on which direction the wind is blowing.
  • They float upward until they reach a point where the thinner air of higher elevation is no longer enough to lift them higher.

    Then they blow around in the wind.

    They slowly loose their helium and eventually fall back to earth. The latex balloon sits on the ground for millions of years and never decomposes.

    So I guess you could call it littering, but I%26#039;ve never heard of anyone being fined for it.
  • The Helium dissipates through the balloon, and the balloon returns to earth.

    by the way they do break down.

    It might be considered littering, but not nearly on the scale as communities that dump their garbage,including plastic grocery bags, into the ocean. jcms
  • They will float away and eventually lose the air and sink back down. Its not just littering, it can be environmentally harmful.
    Ducks and other small animals have been known to either eat the balloons or get their heads stuck inside them or get tangled in the string.
  • SA wrote: %26quot;The latex balloon sits on the ground for millions of years and never decomposes.%26quot;

    Wrong - Latex degrades rather quickly when exposed to sunlight. It would not last more than a few months in a hot summer before it would turn into crumbs. Did this as a Middle School Science Project years ago.
  • well duh it floats away and yes it is littering because it will eventually pop or run out of air and fall to the ground my brain
  • they keep going until they no longer have strong enough lift .and then they dift around the world until all there helium seeps out or the rubbber gets to old and just pops.
  • Then you will hear a whistling noise as you let it go flying in the air.
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