SEATTLE - NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says its concern about pollution from released balloons is growing and harming marine life.

The nation's largest federal agency involved with managing everything from fisheries to marine debris to the National Weather Service has partnered with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to try to use social media to discourage or end the practice of large helium balloon releases at weddings, parties, sporting and other events.

The agency writes in its newest marine debris newsletter, "Ultimately, the campaign will be transferable to coastal areas around the country."

"Marine animals can ingest balloons or become entangled by their attachments, causing great injury and even death," they said.

The issue is not new for the Balloon Council, the organization representing the industry. The Balloon Council said that the balloon typically used in celebrations are naturally bio-degradable and usually don't have string attached.

The council claimed no animal necropsy has ever found that balloon debris caused the death of a marine mammal. The Balloon Council says foil balloons should never be released as they are not bio-degradable.


Balloons as Litter: A Rising Concern - report from Virginia