Balloon release ban introduced in Michigan Senate to prevent pollution

Photo credit: Amber Ainsworth.

Your next balloon release could come with a hefty $800 fine.

Legislation introduced in the Michigan Senate calls for banning the intentional release of balloons over environmental concerns. Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) unveiled the bill Tuesday while lawmakers were in session.

The bill calls for prohibited anyone who knowingly releases a balloon outdoors if it's filled with gas that is lighter than air. Balloons released for meteorological purposes and hot air balloons do not count.

Under the bill, fines start at $800 and escalate to higher amounts depending on the size of the balloon.

Balloon waste was recently included in the growing list of contaminants that pose a danger to the Great Lakes. In 2019, the Alliance for the Great Lakes reported finding more than 18,000 balloons or balloon pieces on the Great Lakes shores over a two-year period. 

Data also came from a survey out of the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability, which asked citizens to help map hotspots where balloon debris was most common. They included stretches along the Indiana Dunes, near Holland, and the Windsor-Lake St. Clair shoreline, according to Great Lakes Now.

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Balloons were cited as a threat to wildlife due because of the latex material that many are made up of. A study reported that balloons were the "highest-risk debris item" and are 32 times more likely to result in death than ingesting hard plastics.

The balloon release ban bill was first reported by Bridge Magazine.

The balloon bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Environment.