Did you know that Virginia is one of the few states that has a law governing balloon releases? While the law would benefit from an update, we can be proud that our state has taken this issue seriously and is setting an example for the rest of the country.
§ 29.1-556.1. Release of certain balloons prohibited; civil penalty.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly release or cause to be released into the atmosphere within a one-hour period fifty or more balloons which are (i) made of a nonbiodegradable or nonphotodegradable material or any material which requires more than five minutes’ contact with air or water to degrade and (ii) inflated with a substance which is lighter than air. Any person who violates this section shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed five dollars per balloon released above the allowable limit, which shall be paid into the Lifetime Hunting and Fishing Endowment Fund established pursuant to § 29.1-101.1.
B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to (i) balloons released by or on behalf of any agency of the Commonwealth, or the United States or pursuant to a contract with the Commonwealth, the United States, or any other state, territory or government for scientific or meteorological purposes or (ii) hot air balloons that are recovered after launch. (1991, c. 607.)
This law is in Title 29 of the Code of Virginia, enforced by local law enforcement and prosecuted by local Commonwealth’s Attorney. So, if you know of any plans to release a large number of balloons into the air, notify local law enforcement. Be sure to quote the Code section, they may not be familiar with it.