HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Releasing non-biodegradable balloons into the air will soon be illegal in the state of Virginia.
Virginia Beach Del. Nancy Guy has been working on this effort for years and said the law goes into effect July 1.
Balloons released into the air sometimes wind up in power lines and on beaches.
For the past 10 years, Christina Trapani said she has been studying balloon debris.
She is also the owner of Eco Maniac Company, an eco-friendly online store and traveling retail store selling alternatives to single-use plastics.
She said it is heartbreaking for animals to be harmed due to balloons in their environment.
“In some of our more remote beaches here in Virginia, we’re seeing balloons in quantities of more than 100 per mile. They are a pretty significant issue. They’ve been determined to be one of the topmost dangerous types of litter for marine animals,” said Trapani.
She regularly picks up balloons in the ocean and on land.
“A lot of people don’t realize when let the balloons go, they disappear for a little bit, but they come back to Earth. What goes up must come down,” said Trapani.
And when they come down, they can sometimes be fatal to animals when they eat them or get tangled in the balloon's ribbon.
Balloons can be a problem for wildlife and power lines.
Just a few days ago, officials in California say a metallic balloon on transmission lines is believed to have caused a 35-acre brush fire.
Leaders with Dominion Energy say balloons cause problems for them, too.
“Everybody wants to celebrate. We do appreciate that, but the balloons really do cause hazards for us,” said Rayhan Daudani, a Dominion Energy spokesperson.
He said the balloons can get into the power lines and can cause sparks, fires and power outages.
“It’s a very real safety issue,” said Daudani.
Del. Guy, Trapini and many others worked to change the law.
Now, you’re allowed to release 49 balloons per hour, but starting on July 1 anyone over 16 years old caught releasing non-biodegradable balloons could be fined $25 per balloon.
“It’s a very exciting change,” said Trapani. “We can finally use the law to stop balloon releases - especially intentional balloon releases - in the state of Virginia.”