Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is Danger to Animals from Balloons `Overinflated'?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is Danger to Animals from Balloons `Overinflated'?

Article excerpt

Dear Abby: I love animals and I am concerned about our environment. I am also a responsible business person deeply involved in the balloon industry. I have served on industry boards and have testified before my state legislators regarding balloons.

I am surprised you printed the letter from "Friend of the Environment." Several years ago this type of balloon story made the headlines across the nation. It pulled at the heartstrings of animal lovers.

The information was totally inaccurate and the retraction stories did not make the big headlines; they were buried. To date, there has been no case of a death of any mammal, fish, reptile or bird that was directly attributed to the ingestion of a latex balloon fragment. Latex balloons are 100 percent biodegradable. They decompose in the environment at about the same rate as an oak leaf decomposes. They are not "colored bits of shriveled plastic," but a product made from natural tree sap. Research shows that when latex balloons are released, many will rise about five miles and burst into spaghetti-like pieces that return to Earth dispersed over many miles. We do know that animals eat these soft slivers of rubber, but the evidence indicates the pieces pass harmlessly through the animals' digestive systems. During the 1994 International Beach Cleanup, sponsored by the Center for Marine Conservation, volunteers scoured 5,200 miles of shoreline and found only 36,047 balloon fragments as compared to 1,283,718 cigarette butts and 122,306 plastic foam cups. Overall, balloons accounted for less than 1 percent of all beach litter. It is unfortunate that someone as influential as you failed to check the validity of the information that was sent to you. Please set the record straight. TERRI ADISHIAN, VICE PRESIDENT, BALLOON WHOLESALERS INTERNATIONAL * Although I received many letters from irate members of the balloon industry, I still have reservations about balloon releases. …

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