Protect our wildlife and environment ban the release of Sky Lanterns

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We are requesting that  The City of South Padre Island, Texas, The City of Austin,Texas and the State of Texas policymakers consider banning sky lanterns due to the hazard associated with this product.  Manufacturers and event promoters often claim that lanterns are a safe product.  In reality, this is not the case.  Sky lanterns have caused injury to wildlife and livestock.  They have caused wildfires and structure fires.  They create unnecessary risk for fire fighters and other emergency responders.  


We are not alone in recognizing the risk posed by the use of these products. Sky Lanterns have been banned across multiple countries including Austria, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain and Germany to name a few In America 29 states including California, Hawaii, Oregon, Illinois Minnesota, South Carolina and Ohio. In Ohio, launching a sky lantern is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and In many instances; lanterns have been banned only after tragic and costly fires.  We believe that the reasons below are evidence enough for regulating this product in Texas.

Sky lanterns leave waste behind.  Litter is more than just an eyesore- it can pose real threat as well.  Sky lanterns have killed and injured livestock.   Here in Texas, this a real threat with our vast ranches of livestock our multiple endangered species especially our coast line an area known to be a Sea Turtle Nesting ground. These Sky lanterns pose a great threat to these sea turtles as they can be confused as their food source Sky Lantern litter is also hazardous to motorists, an eyesore to tourists, and problematic for small business owners.  

Please don’t wait for Texas businesses, families and wildlife to pay the price for a few minutes of fun. Please regulate this product now!

Sky Lanterns leave behind garbage, causes fires which become a hazard for communities and wildlife:

o   Waste in Public Areas:  Recently, a Michigan family was involved in an injury accident when the driver of the vehicle swerved to avoid hitting a sky lantern that had landed in the road.  The driver was rounding a curve, and saw the large pink lantern at dusk. She believed that it was a piece of furniture that was sitting in the road.  

o   Waste in Natural Habitat:  Lanterns pose a risk to wildlife and natural habitat due to the waste they leave behind.  Wildlife and livestock can become entrapped in a spent lantern, or can inadvertently consume pieces of the lantern.  These lanterns even have the potential to damage state and federally protected property.

o   Biodegradable Lanterns:  It is important to recognize that “biodegradable” does not mean “safe” or “environmentally friendly.”  Simply stated, it means that given the right conditions, over a period of time, a biodegradable lantern will eventually disintegrate into micro particles.  Time, heat, oxygen, and moisture must be present and balanced to create optimal conditions for any substance to biodegrade.  If any of these elements are lacking or imbalanced, the time required for a product to biodegrade may extend indefinitely.  Even lanterns that have been gathered and disposed of through conventional means impact the environment as they become landfill waste


Fire Safety Concerns:

o   Lanterns do not always burn out before landing: Manufacturers and event promoters state that lanterns are safe because they burn out before landing.  In reality, there are several factors including wind and temperature that can affect the performance of a sky lantern.   The use of sky lanterns has resulted in many documented fires and injuries.   

o   Wildfire risk:  The consequences of wildfires are significant.  In addition to causing the loss of thousands of acres of natural habitat, wildfires can drive families from their homes and cause significant economic hardship for business owners.  In South Padre Island where tourism can be a significant source of revenue for many, wildfire damage has the potential to cause economic damage that could take years to fully recover from. 

o   Lanterns have been responsible for costly structure fires: At a large scale sky lantern release event hosted by the company Lantern Fest in Gaston, North Carolina, lanterns ignited a fire on a nearby cell phone tower.  In addition to the risk posed to the emergency responders that extinguished the fire, the fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.

o   Damage to local businesses:  In the UK, a sky lantern was responsible for igniting the largest industrial fires in the West Midlands area.  In a plant security video, a single, lit sky lantern can be seen touching down on the property of a plastics plant.  The subsequent fire caused significant damage and eventually led to a ban of fire lanterns in the area.  

o   Risk to our Emergency Service Personnel:  Should a fire occur, local emergency service departments will be responsible for responding to, and managing the situation.  In doing so, emergency responders will be asked to put their own personal safety at risk.  We feel that the potential risk emergency responders will assume in responding to a fire outweigh the benefits of any lantern release. 

For many of us, it is with regret that we request that this product be regulated.  We recognize that sky lanterns have the potential for bringing entertainment, joy, or hope. We too appreciate the incredible beauty of a sky lantern disappearing over the horizon.  We have loved ones we wish to commemorate. However, when we fully evaluate the risks associated with sky lanterns, and the potential for damage, we find that the costs outweigh the benefits. 

We hope that you share our concerns, and will consider regulating, or banning these products in Texas

Let’s remove this dangerous product from our landscape!  


Want to know more? Check out these resources and articles:

Sky Lantern Damages in the News:
800 Acre Fire at Myrtle Beach Likely Caused by Sky Lantern:
Cow Dies in Pain After Ingesting Fallen Sky Lantern:
Festival Leaves Litter:
Gaston, NC Lantern Fest Fire:
Kentwood Fire at Locally Owned Business:
Michigan Family Recovers after Crash Caused by Sky Lantern:
West Midlands Fire: 

Emergency Service Personnel, Elected Officials and Policy Makers on Sky Lanterns:
Charlevoix, MI Bans Sky Lanterns:
Fire Marshals Want to Ban Sky Lanterns: 

Ludington Fire Chief:

Sky Lanterns Illegal in Ohio: 

Fort Myers Florida bans Sky Lanterns


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