Birthday parties, gender reveal celebrations, and marketing activations: where balloons can be commonly found, and are often released into the sky. But now, Florida is set on banning the intentional release of balloons outdoors, expected to take effect July 1, 2024.

While fun and festive, when it comes to releasing balloons into the sky, there have been growing concerns over the harm that this practice causes to wildlife and the environment. Balloons often end up in oceans and waterways, harming aquatic animals like seabirds, and entangling turtles and manatees, according to a New York Times article. On land, balloon debris are sometimes mistaken for food by land animals, ingested and impossible to digest, which can be fatal. But the harm doesn’t stop at just animals – there is a concern about microplastic pollution, which is harmful to humans and animals alike. 

Currently, Florida law makes it illegal to release more than ten balloons in any 24-hour period. Now, the new Florida legislation bans the intentional release of a balloon, equating the act with noncriminal littering punishable by fines up to $150 (with children aged 6 and under exempt from the law, as well as balloons released by a government agency or for government sanctioned scientific purposes). 

Florida representative Linda Chaney expressed her hopes that the new legislation will make people more aware of litter in general, including balloons. 

Florida is among states such as Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia who have also placed certain restrictions on releasing balloons outdoors in an effort to protect the environment and wildlife.