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Balloons - Delight or Danger?

Updated on November 12, 2011

I love balloons; they are so bright and colorful. A bouquet makes a delightful gift or decoration for a party. Balloon animals can bring a smile to anyone's face. Water balloon fights are a great way to spend a hot, sunny afternoon. Releasing a bunch of helium balloons into the sky to commemorate a special occasion is a beautiful sight.

There is another side.


The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recommended that children under the age of eight must be closely supervised when in contact with latex balloons. There are many reasons for this:

* The latex of the balloon is fun to suck and chew on. It makes neat sounds and feels good in your teeth. However, if a child sucks on or chews an inflated balloon, it may pop and be aspirated into the child's airway. Because latex can easily conform to the shape of the airway, it is difficult to remove and easy for a child to suffocate and die.

* Children (and even adults) who have difficulty trying to blow up a balloon may accidentally suck the balloon down their airways when taking in a big breath.

* Accidental ingestion of uninflated balloons or pieces of balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death of all children's products.

Balloons are dangerous to wildlife and the environment:

* Mass balloon releases are a beautiful sight to behold floating through the sky. However, what comes up, must come down at some point. Balloons may travel for miles from the release point. Eventually they pop and the pieces come down as litter or worse. There are regulations in many states about mass balloon releases. Before considering this option for an event, check with the local government.

* Marine animals are particularly susceptible to latex balloon pieces that fall into the water. Easily resembling jellyfish, the pieces may be gobbled up by fish, turtles, dolphins and whales. If strings or ribbons are attached, these can wrap around sea life and choke them.

* Birds are attracted to the shiny balloon pieces and eat them, as well.

* Helium-filled balloons present another hazard. Yes, it is fun to breathe in a little helium from a balloon to make your voice sound cartoon-like. Breathing in too much helium, however, can deplete the body of oxygen too quickly and you could, at the least, pass out and at the worst, die. While helium-filled balloons do not present too much danger of this, having a helium tank available for "huffing" could be lethal in the wrong hands - namely, teenagers looking for a new way to get "high."

* Latex balloons are biodegradable BUT take about four years to "disappear." So, while pretty, uninflated or popped balloons are litter for at least a few years.

Mylar balloons are better. These shiny balloons are a synthetic metallized product that is more expensive but less of a hazard.

Latex balloons are fun. Using them safely and responsibly is the key.

Choking Hazards for Young Children


Submit a Comment

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    I so agree, billips. I appreciate your comments.

  • billips profile image

    billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

    Excellent hub - believe it or not there are still individuals out there who have no idea of the dangers presented to both humans and animals, by those pretty dancing globes - they certainly are pretty, but also so very dangerous - good info to pass along - B.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for your comments, Seeker and Gypsy. I believe the more aware we are, the safer we can be (in all things).

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Thanks for the info however even though I still love balloons I'll never look at them the same way. I love the environment so I guess I won't be so pro-balloon anymore. Good information.

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    An excellent hub on the dangers of balloons.

    I have to say that I do find them very pretty but I don't like them at all. When I was about five years of age a second cousin of mine who we used to play with when she was visiting an aunt, didn't turn up anymore. Mum wouldn't tell me what had happened until I was older, but no one in our family ever got a balloon again. It turns out that Katy - the wee girl we used to play with - had choked to death while trying to blow a balloon up. I was horrified when I heard this and the memory has stuck with me to this day.

    An excellent hub that I do hope many people will take note off. Not just in relation to our children but also for the benefit of our wildlife. Voted up!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    You're welcome, mathair. People definitely need to be more informed about this danger.

  • mathair profile image

    mathair 6 years ago from Ireland

    Thank you for highlighting this danger. As a mother with a latex allergy i am amazed at how often my children are handed baloons in stores without my permission. This causes unecessary distress for all!