Following a trend that seems to be sweeping the country, Queen Anne's County, Maryland, has made it illegal to release a helium balloon. The offense would be punishable by a fine of up to $250 dollars.
Numerous counties, cities, and states have moved in recent months and years to ban the release of helium balloons, which used to be a commonplace practice at weddings, graduations, and other celebrations. Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, and California have already banned the practice.
More states and cities are also on the horizon. The Associated Press reports that Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Maine have all debated bills that would ban the release of balloons. And, as reported by TheBlaze, the Kentucky legislature proposed such a measure earlier this year.
The primary reason for banning the practice is environmental. Environmentalists note that non-biodegradable balloon fragments often end up on beaches and in oceans, and they can also ensnare and kill wild animals and fish. Additionally, they have been known to cause power outages and other public nuisances.
A Queen Anne County Commissioner told WBUR-TV that the bill will not ban balloons, even helium ones, but rather merely releasing them into the air. "If you want to have balloons out at your kid's birthday party or you want to have them at a wedding, get them... Tie them securely and then dispose of them properly when you're done," the official said.
The issue came to the county's attention when one county resident complained that their farm was littered with balloons with notes attached saying that they were released in Ohio, while one was littered with balloons released from the Indianapolis 500, which was over 500 miles away.