Releasing balloons outdoors now illegal in Va.


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — It is now illegal in Virginia to release non biodegradable balloons outdoors, and a local leader wants to see the same restrictions in West Virginia.

As of July 1, anyone releasing balloons into the air for any reason, even a memorial, can be fined up to $25 for each balloon.

The new law also says that if a person under the age of 16 releases a balloon at the instruction of an adult, the adult shall be liable for the civil penalty.

"I think it's a great idea," said Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett. "I, too, have celebrated with balloon releases, but, over time, I've learned the problems associated with that activity."

Puckett said balloons are hazardous to our environment and "detrimental to the overall wellbeing of our community. "

"They pollute our waterways and they kill our wildlife," he said. "Now, when I see a balloon release, I try and caution everyone that the sentimental value versus the environmental impact isn't even close. We must do better and I applaud them for taking this step forward."

A study conducted by Longwood University confirmed Puckett's concerns.

Researchers found that latex balloons, foil balloons and plastic ribbons are a top source of debris found on Virginia's remote beaches.

Birds, turtles and other animals often mistake balloons for food, which can be deadly, the study said. Sea turtles are especially susceptible because they surface to breathe and eat where deflated balloons float on the water.

Del. Nancy Guy, D-Virginia Beach, introduced the legislation and its overall intent is to prevent litter from polluting the state's waterways.

Other states that have made it illegal include California, Connecticut, Florida and Tennessee.

Some cities across the country have also passed laws making it illegal.

— Contact Charles Boothe at