marine conservation society latex balloon environment facebook marine conservation society home news london meetings courses contacts seasearch calendar newsletter marine science education sitemap marine based activities
Time elapsed so far


This page will automatically refresh every 5 minutes.

Balloon at start of experiment environment

Here is an original image showing the balloon at the start of the experiment as a comparison.

balloon string snapped

28 days and the string attaching the balloon to its rock has rotted and snapped. But the balloon is ok.

balloon string snapped again

51 days and the string has snapped again but the balloon seems fine.

balloon 14/09/2010

86 days and the latex below the water line (yellow) has started to break down. But the latex above the water is still intact.


How Long Does it take a Latex Balloon to Degrade?


marine balloon latex


The purpose of this page is to find out how long it really takes for a Latex balloon to degrade.

180 Days: The bottom of the balloon has started to turn into a semi liquid state while the areas with graphics on are still fairly intact and robust.

118 Days: Balloon is finally showing signs of breaking down. The balloon is very soft and difficult to handle without it flowing like treacle. A large section at the top has started to turn white due to oxidation, though the manufacture says this should have happened within 24 hrs. Parts of the balloon covered in text is still in such a condition that it would still be a risk to marine life.

86 Days: A large section of the balloon which has been below the water line has started to degrade. See bottom left. Balloon removed and beaker cleaned.

65 Days:
Balloon has finally burst below the water line. The latex has also started to change colour (more orange) and is showing signs of degrading. But the latex above the water still appears in good condition and is still trapping air allowing the balloon to float.

51 Days: The water has gone very green now and the string has snapped once again.

7 Weeks and the balloon is still intact. The water is becoming clogged with algae will need to clean soon.

35 Days: The balloon has lost some air but it can still support the rock it is tied to in the water. It has sunk into the water due to the balloons deflation causing the printed characters around the bottom to become submerged. No real change in colour, suppliers information says it should have gone white due to oxidation after 1 hour?

What are the odds of a similar balloon killing a turtle, dolphin, bird or fish in this amount of time?

30 days Algae has now started to grow on the rock suspended below the balloon but there has been no real change in the balloon its self.

28 days and the string attaching the balloon to its rock has rotted and snapped, but the balloon is still intact.



The balloon in the beaker was purchased from a large card retailer , I have recently been in contact with the company who have sent me information from their suppliers stating how biodegradable their balloons are.

Well lets find out:

The balloon has been partly inflated and the bottom half submerged in a sea water substitute. I know there should really be a control which has been placed in a vacuum with no light, as a comparison, but I think this arrangement is suitable enough to find out how fast a latex balloon will degrade in the atmosphere or underwater.

The balloon is located in a South facing room which allows a large amount of light in, this should give an adequate opportunity for the balloon to degrade, as it is the UV component of light which causes the balloon to break up.

Some might say that the window glass will stop the UV from getting through, well I know there is still enough getting through, having had numerous plastic bags fall apart after being left in the same location in the past.

Bookmark this page and come back later to see how it is progressing.

Do you want to help make company's take more care over their balloons being lost into the environment?
Please join the' Not a happy meal' facebook group.


65 days and the balloon has finally bursts below the water line, causing the bulge on the right.

balloon bursts after 65 days

118 Days

balloon after 118 days

180 Days The sections of the balloon which are covered in graphics are still intact, though turning white due to oxidation. Would still be lethal to any animal which ingested it.

balloon after 189 days

Home  |   News  |   Meetings  | Courses  |  ContactsMarine Sciences | Things to do | Marine World News | Sitemap |