Council members Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn) and (D-Astoria) have joined forces with Councilman I. Daneek Miller (St. Albans), who has introduced legislation Wednesday that will help prevent power outages from an unusual source.
Intro. 1669 would regulate the sale of Mylar balloons, which are one of two primary types of decorative inflatables often found at party and gift shops, according to education.com.
There are balloons made from flexible liquid rubber and Mylar balloons, which are made from shiny polyester and looks similar to foil, according to education.com. These balloons can remain taut for three to five days and float for one to two weeks.
While they seem harmless, the Mylar balloons can cause electrical outages when they get caught or tangled in power lines and since the material is not biodegradable, if the balloons float into the water they can pollute natural bodies of water and threaten surrounding wildlife, according to Miller’s office.
In 2018, more than 1,500 Con Edison customers in Hollis and St. Albans lost power for hours after several balloons knocked into overhead wires, according to a report from the New York Post.
Miller’s regulation will make sure the balloons are weighted before the sale and will include warning labels about the potential risk for outages and fires.
“Our electrical infrastructure is already vulnerable to disruptions, as we saw with last month’s heatwave related outages impacting large parts of Brooklyn and Queens,” said Miller. “The release of Mylar balloons exacerbates the strain on these systems. Consumers must be made aware of these risks, and retailers must make provisions to offset this risk as well.”
Other states are also paying the price for Mylar balloon releases.
California had 1,128 power outages because of the balloons, New Jersey had to cleanup 4,228 Mylar and latex balloons from its beaches that have harmed sea turtles, fish, birds and other sea creatures, according to the Environmental Nature Center.
Violation of the proposed law would result in a $100 to $1,000 fine for each Mylar balloon sold, according to Miller.
Espinal and Constantinides both agreed that the bill is necessary.
“We’re all taught that what goes up must come down. But when Mylar balloons come down, this simple party decoration can cause massive damage to our communities and our environment,” said Espinal, the Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing chairman. “Most consumers probably don’t know about this simple step they can take to prevent power outages.”
Constantinides, the Committee on Environmental Protection chairman, shared his sentiment.
“Mylar balloons present an immediate risk to our communities when they cause power outages like the one in Hollis last year,” said Constantinides. “These balloons also pose a serious, long-term threat to our environment, so it’s crucial we move away from harmful materials like this.”