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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 16:18 GMT
Eco-school cancels balloon race
Balloons
Balloons can cause animals to choke
A school has cancelled a balloon race because of concerns about the possible effect on wildlife.

Prestonpans Infant and Nursery School in East Lothian banned the release of balloons due to fears that they could end up choking wild animals and pets.

The school's Parent Teacher Association planned the June event to raise funds for a new playground table.

However, a balloon trade body said there was no evidence of harm and firms could be affected by the claims.

The Prestonpans school said it was awarded Eco Schools status because it had acted on concerns that marine species such as dolphins, whales, turtles, fish and seabirds had been found with balloons in their stomachs.

When they burst above the sea, balloons can enter the water, be mistaken for jellyfish and eaten by leatherback turtles and other sea creatures, potentially choking them or limiting their intake of proper food
Calum Duncan
The Marine Conservation Society

The aim of the Eco Schools programme is to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of the school for both pupils and for staff.

It is understood the school, which has three to eight-year-old pupils, is the first to make the move and has received widespread support from political figures and environmental and wildlife agencies and East Lothian Council.

Anne Moffat, the Labour MP for East Lothian, said: "I applaud the actions of the PTA of Prestonpans Nursery and Infant School in cancelling their planned balloon race after learning the effect it could have on the environment and their decision to ensure that balloons are never released in future."

Green MSP Robin Harper, said: "The motto for the protection of our environment has to be every little helps, and setting good examples is so important, well done Prestonpans."

Fundraising programme

Helen Gardyne, acting head teacher, said: "We are not against balloons. We will continue to use balloons indoors and as part of our fundraising programme, we just won't let them go."

Calum Duncan, The Marine Conservation Society's spokesman, said: "We welcome the excellent example sent by Prestonpans Infant and Nursery School and urge others to follow suit.

"When they burst above the sea, balloons can enter the water, be mistaken for jellyfish and eaten by leatherback turtles and other sea creatures, potentially choking them or limiting their intake of proper food.

"If you hear about anyone planning a balloon release, please get in touch with us and we will send our Don't Let Go pack that gives event organisers plenty of information and other fun ideas, such as balloon-popping raffles, rather than releasing them into the environment."

Kate Walker, NABAS The Balloon Association administrator, said: "There is absolutely no scientific evidence that a single latex balloon has ever caused the death of a single animal.

"The balloon industry and other researchers have spent considerable time investigating claims that balloons caused the death of animals.

"Even though none has held up, many small businesses throughout the country are being hurt financially by such erroneous claims."


SEE ALSO
Balloon ban call to save turtles
23 Oct 06 |  Lancashire

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