3 years, 7 months since these two latex balloons floated ashore from the Atlantic Ocean, still partially inflated. We tied them to a fence post to observe how long it would take for them to break down. The balloon industry spends millions of dollars in an aggressive marketing campaign, where they mislead consumers, touting latex balloons are “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” – claiming they will “biodegrade harmlessly as fast as an oak leaf.”
Latex balloons are not biodegradable, made with chemical additives, they last years as poison in the environment – unlike oak leaves which are a beneficial part of the Earth. These latex balloons have changed little over the years. Their color has faded and the top rings have come off. Tiny holes have appeared recently. They go from soft and pliable in the humidity, to dry and stiff in the arid heat. Their attached plastic ribbons are breaking down faster than the balloons.
Balloon sellers continue to lie to their customers, stating a balloon release using latex balloons that are hand tied with no strings is harmless to the environment. Yet it is these so-called “biodegradable latex” balloons that are especially deadly to animals as their fallen remains mimic food to any creature – on land and in the sea. Countless animals are killed all over the world as balloons are being sent mindlessly into their habitats.
While some balloons burst after reaching high altitude, some remain intact. No matter what type of balloon used or in what condition they return to Earth, whether in bits or whole, all balloons always fall as ugly hazardous litter.