To the editor:

The proposed ban on releasing helium balloons in Massachusetts would help keep the state beautiful and protect wildlife.

Balloon releases, which sometimes take place at weddings, graduations, memorials and other events, send hundreds or thousands of balloons up into the atmosphere. But when deflated balloons return to Earth, they wreak havoc.

Animals often mistake balloon fragments for food and choke or suffocate when they try to eat them. Balloons can also block animals’ digestive tracts, causing them to starve to death slowly and painfully. Birds can become entangled in balloon remnants, and many have been found dead with bits of Mylar, latex and string wrapped around their necks, beaks and legs. Dolphins, whales and sea turtles also die every year after ingesting deflated balloons, which can resemble jellyfish, one of their food sources.

Instead of aerial littering, choose an environmentally friendly way to mark occasions, such as planting trees or flowers. And if you spot a balloon or other trash while you’re out enjoying nature, take a second to pick it up —you could save a life.

Lindsay Pollard-Post

The PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Virginia