We freely and wisely choose to use AIR Inflation whenever possible. It is an inexpensive alternative to use FREE readily available air, without making a footprint, instead of the much more expensive alternative – Helium Balloon Gas, which is a depleting natural resource.
We also prefer and recommend a variety of options as alternative to balloon releases which can have some environmental impact on the world in which we live.
If you see us at a public event, please understand our company policy, if we refuse to serve or sell Helium filled balloons to unattended children; our intention is to minimise our risk, if by reducing their risk.
Information supplied by the Balloon Council: http://www.balloonhq.com/BalloonCouncil/index.html
Balloons in one form or another have been around for centuries. But the modern latex balloon, the kind you can blow up yourself, was invented only a little more than 70 years ago in New England, USA. A chemical engineer, frustrated in his attempts to make inner tubes from this new product -liquid latex -shaped a cat’s head from a piece of cardboard and dipped it in the latex. When it dried, Neil Tillotson had a ‘cat balloon’ complete with ears. He made about 2 000 balloons and sold them on the street during Boston’s annual Patriot Day parade. Latex balloons are still made from dipping forms into latex, but the process is now mechanised.
Early balloons were made from pig bladders and later from a rubber similar to that used to make gum boots. Today’s latex balloons are 100 per cent natural -they are made from a milky substance from rubber trees. Latex balloons are not made from plastic.
In the late 1970′s, silver metallised balloons were developed for the New York City Ballet. These balloons are commonly called Mylar, but they are actually made from a metalized nylon and are more expensive than latex balloons.
Today, balloons are floating greeting cards. Almost 80% are used to deliver messages -from “Happy Birthday” to a proud “Mum, you’re the best”.
Latex balloons are produced from the milky sap of the rubber tree, Heveabrasillensis. The rubber tree originated in the tropical forests of South America and was taken to Europe from Brazil -hence the Latin name. It is now grown on plantations in many tropical countries. The latex is collected in buckets, as it drips from harmless cuts in the bark. The process is much like that used to collect maple syrup. The use of latex balloons and other products, such as surgical gloves and condoms, make rubber trees economically valuable, which discourage people from cutting them down and provide valuable revenue to many third world countries.
Latex is a 100 per cent natural substance that breaks down both in sunlight and water and should never be confused with plastic. The degradation process begins almost immediately after a balloon is manufactured. Oxidation, the “frosting” that makes latex balloons look as if they are losing their colour, is one of the first signs of the process. Exposure to sunlight quickens the process, but natural microorganisms attack natural rubber, even in the dark.
Research shows that under similar environmental conditions, latex balloons will biodegrade at about the same rate as a leaf from an oak tree. The actual total degradation time will vary depending on the precise conditions.
Saving the Rainforest
Rubber trees, from which the latex for balloons is harvested, are one of the main forms of vegetation in tropical rain forests, which in recent years have become crucial to maintaining the earth’s fragile ecological balance. Harvesting latex can be more profitable to poor third world nations than raising cattle on the deforested land.
Even when the trees producing latex for balloon manufacturing grow on plantations instead of in rain forests, they help the ecosystem, as the natural biology of the trees helps maintain our atmosphere and protect the ozone layer. The demand for latex balloons actually is a huge contributor to a more positive environment in which global warming is increasingly worrying scientists and environmentalists. The balloon industry worldwide requires the latex from 16-million rubber trees that, in total, take up more than 363-million kilograms of CO2 gases annually from the earth’s atmosphere.
What happens to Balloons the Fly?
After a helium-filled balloon is released, it rises through the atmosphere at a little under two metres per second. Both atmospheric pressure and temperature drop as altitude increases.
The balloon rises to a height of about 28,000 feet (about 8.4 kilometres) over a period of about 90 minutes. At that altitude the temperature is about 40 degrees C below zero and the balloon has expanded to reach its elastic limit. A 27-centimetre balloon elongates, on average, to about 700% of its original, uninflated, size before bursting.
Under these high altitude conditions, the balloon actually shatters and undergoes what is called a “brittle fracture”. The resulting pieces of rubber are about the size of a ten or twenty-cent piece and these float back to earth and are scatted over a wide area.
The vast majority of balloons will have this fate.
Balloons after Burstin
It’s at this point, a balloon completes the last part of its life cycle. The rubber pieces continue to biodegrade (a process which begins, incidentally, from the moment a balloon is manufactured) until it has totally disappeared. The time taken varies, but on average, the process of decay for latex runs at about the same speed as that of an oak leaf after Autumn (tests conducted using American conditions).A helium-filled balloon which has shattered at altitude will biodegrade much faster than a whole balloon which is simply disposed of in landfill waste. However, no matter what the environment, a latex balloon decays from the moment its manufacture is completed.
Balloons that don't Burst
An American study estimated that well under five per cent of balloons released will not raise high enough to rupture. However, even assuming a less conservative estimate of 10%, the density of balloons on the ground after a mass release would be fewer than one balloon in more 38 square kilometres for every 500 balloons released.
Balloons and the Wildlife
There is simply no basis for any fear that animals and fish are consuming either whole balloons or pieces of latex rubber from mass release balloons, or that balloons are having an adverse effect on wildlife BASA makes this claim on the basis of:
Extensive US studies which fail to show any link
Lack of any evidence from Australian fishermen that they ever find mass-release balloons, or balloon remnants, in fish that have been caught;
No observed balloon litter in any environment which is carefully monitored by Government authorities –e.g. national parks, marine parks, forests, harbours and foreshores;
Surveys by oceanic countries which show no balloon or latex rubber debris in litter surveys following mass releases in Australia Observations from widely-scattered observers involved in the “Keep Australia Beautiful” programs; and Controlled monitoring and tracking of multi-balloon releases for the purpose of measuring any litter problem. The balloon industry is aware of its social obligations and has an obligation to ensure that retailers and consumers are aware of the best use of the product. BASA works to educate all those who enjoy working with or use balloons.
The balloon industry is aware of its social obligations and has an obligation to ensure that retailers and consumers are aware of the best use of the product. BASA works to educate all those who enjoy working with or use balloons.
Helium inhalation -it’s no laughing matter -Article courtesy of BOC Gases
Have you ever been to a party and inhaled helium in an attempt to sound like Donald Duck?
If so, you have probably put your life at risk!
Evidence has proven that the inhalation of helium can be fatal, yet thousands of party goers continue to inhale helium thinking it to be incredibly funny rather than life threatening.
The inhalation of helium cuts off a person’s supply of oxygen and can cause dizziness, unconsciousness and ultimately death!
Doctors around Australia are concerned about the health risk associated with people inhaling helium. This is a particular problem when people are inebriated and their system is already contending with an outside influence. According to Consultant Occupational Health Physician, Dr Greg McGroder, “Australians have not yet realised the extreme danger associated with helium inhalation. If the concentration of oxygen is decreased below 18% within the human body, symptoms and signs of Asphyxia can occur. Helium gas can totally displace the available oxygen and if this is maintained for even a few seconds, asphyxia and death can and will occur”.
In 1898, fifteen year old Michelle Moreno from Texas died from helium inhalation at a friend’s party. Her death caused major headlines regarding the dangers of helium inhalation. In Australia, Kristi Brash from Victoria had a near death experience when she appeared to freeze and turn blue after inhaling the entire contents of a balloon. Kristi fell motionless to the floor but luckily regained consciousness after a few minutes. Kristi was rushed to hospital and after examination she appeared to be fine although any long term affects of the inhalation are yet to be determined.
Rainforest Alliance TM
Did you know?
Because Pioneer Balloon Company is committed to responsible sourcing, all Qualatex latex balloons are made from rubber trees located in plantations that are Rainforest Alliance Certified™
The latex used to produce balloons are sustainably sourced from natural rubber trees. The balloon manufacturing industry not only supports the tapping of natural rubber trees to produce latex for market, but it also supports the communities where the natural rubber is produced. You can find out more about this through Rainforest Alliance website.
The three links listed below are just some of the articles by Rainforest Alliance that talks about the natural rubber industry and its importance in the world of manufacturing in the future.
How are balloons made / manufactured?
This short and facinating 5 minute clip from You Tube will show you how balloons are manufactured. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7pYoA9gEqc&t=74s