When Balloons Kill
BUSINESS ECONOMICS|August 1-15, 2019

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Member of Parliament (Lok Shabha)

My mind and body have instinctively always had the right feelings towards things that are harmful for the planet – it is almost as if my relationship with Nature is so profound that we think as one. I have always hated kites and plastic straws, for instance, long before I knew how many millions of lives they took. Another phobia of mine is balloons. My family knows that I will not touch one and will not enter a space that has them. People who release pigeons and balloons at rallies have my undying hatred because the pigeons will die and the balloons will kill. Fortunately, because we have been so vociferous against bird releases at ceremonies, it is no longer done. Now we need to stop the balloons as well.

The deadliest ocean garbage for seabirds is balloons. In a small survey done on one coast, 1,700 dead seabirds were picked up. 500+ of these had swallowed plastic. Four in 10 of those deaths were caused by balloons.

Seabirds frequently snap up floating litter because it looks like food. When pieces of latex, or Mylar, are mistaken for food and ingested, they lodge in the digestive tract, inhibiting the animal’s ability to eat, and causing a slow and painful death by starvation. Birds, turtles, and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food. In addition, many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or cut their limbs.

A balloon floats to a high altitude where it bursts. The burst pattern makes it look like a jellyfish, that now comes down, is washed into the ocean, and is swallowed by predators like dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

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