May 21, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

New State Law Bans Balloon Releases


A new Maryland law prohibits intentional balloon releases.

The law bans the releasing of balloons that, upon landing, create litter and threaten the health and safety of animals on the land in the water. Maryland Department of the Environment is responsible for enforcing the law, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources is joining in raising public awareness through participation in a regional campaign funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“In Maryland it’s now illegal to be a plastic balloon litterbug and that’s good news for our land, water, and wildlife,” said MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles. “With the rising tide of plastic pollution, this new law is an important and timely step for the health of our Chesapeake Bay, coast, and ocean.”

“Balloons can be a great way to commemorate a special occasion, but when they are intentionally released into the air, they can harm and kill livestock and wildlife. They can also cause electric outages when caught in power lines,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “The key is to find other ways to celebrate or honor a loved one or if you have balloons, be sure to ‘pop them and drop them’ in the trash rather than releasing them into the air on purpose.”

The law bans people 13 and older from intentionally releasing a balloon or organizing or participating in a mass release of 10 or more balloons. The legislation follows similar bills in other states, including neighboring Virginia and Delaware, and certain municipalities within Maryland.

Biannual surveys of mid-Atlantic beaches consistently find balloons and related debris such as ribbons. These items can be mistaken by wildlife or even domestic animals as food, or animals can become entangled.

Learn more here.

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