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Balloon & Helium Facts

Good for the environment

Latex Balloons, such as the ones used at Shindigs, are 100% biodegradable, which can decompose as fast as an oak leaf in your garden. A lot of people have the impression that balloons are bad for the environment, when in fact they are quite the opposite.

Balloons are made from a natural rubber product extracted from the sap of rubber trees. It is collected by making a small cut into the tree’s bark, then catching the sap in a cup. Latex harvesting doesn’t “hurt” the tree! Rubber trees grow in rain forests and the latex harvesting discourages deforestation because the latex-producing trees are left intact. These trees can produce latex for about 35 years. The continuing demand for latex balloons ensures the survival of the rubber tree and provides economic incentive for planting instead of cutting down these trees.

Do Balloons Kill Baby Seals?

This is a fantastic headline that will grab the attention of the public. However, let’s consider a few facts:

*Most balloons that end up in the harbour and waterways are there because the general public simply let them go after their party, instead of popping them and disposing of them properly
*National Parks and Wildlife and Taronga Zoo do not have any documented cases where balloons have caused the death of any animal, however both have appeared in the media denouncing balloons as bad for the environment. Where is the evidence?
*Clean Up Australia reports that 1% of all the rubbish collected was in the rubber category – most of which were rubber tyres.
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Balloon Releases

In NSW you are only legally allowed to release a maximum amount of 19 balloons at one time. In 1999 this ban was put in place for NSW only - no other state has adopted this piece of legislation due to lack of scientific evidence. If a balloon release is done correctly, latex balloons only must be used (not microfoil). They should be hand knotted with no ribbon. About 95% of balloons released in this way will rise to about 8,500 meters where the air is thin and cold. This cold temperature will cause the latex to weaken. Thin air causes the helium to expand and shatter the balloon into tiny pieces. These pieces fall to earth and scatter over a large area. The pieces are usually small enough that if they become ingested by any sealife, they will pass through and not cause the animal any ill effect. The remaining 5% of balloons that do not rise high enough to shatter will drift with the wind currents for approx 8-14 hours before coming down to begin biodegrading naturally.

Using Helium that could be used for medical purposes?

Contrary to media reports, the world is not running out of helium. Identified helium reserves around the world are still plentiful. Helium is a by-product of LPG extraction. It is collected when natural gas is mined so the environmental damage caused by helium extraction is negligible.

The helium going into balloons is also not reducing the supply of helium for MRI and other related medical equipment as is sometimes reported in the media. Medical grade helium is 99.99% pure. MRI grade helium is 99.999% pure. The purification process costs inordinate amounts of money but has to be done so that the helium is suitable for their uses. The helium that is deemed unfit for medical use (up to 99% pure) is suitable for manufacturing purposes and for balloons. Some of this product we get access to for our balloons, however the manufacturers get first priority because they are able to pay more and buy in bulk. We are not the cause of the 2013 helium shortage. Most of the helium is used by the Medical profession, space programs and manufacturing industries. The balloon and party industries use approx 5-7% of the helium supply that is in fact a by-product not required by these industries. So in short, having helium balloons at your party is not effecting its use in life saving medical equipment!

Most Balloon and Party Professionals are mums and dads and have the same concerns for the environment as you do. We are not environmental vandals, nor are we sabotaging medical research.

Safety & Helium

Helium a non-flammable, non-explosive gas that is lighter than air (which is how balloons are able to float). We all know of the party trick of talking like a 'chipmunk' when someone sucks in helium. While it does sound funny it can be dangerous. Helium can cause asphyxiation as the helium being breathed in is actually replacing the oxygen that your lungs need. It can cause brain damage or death if too much is inhaled - so it is best not to let your guests breath it in at all just to be safe.

Click here to read our blog article on helium and how to fill balloons correctly.

If you have any further queries about any of the above information, please contact us on (02 49509561) or email at webstore@shindigs.com.au.