Friday, November 2, 2018

BLOG: "Flushable" Wipes Aren't Flushable After All

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

What does "flushable" truly mean? If you define it as being capable of being flushed down a toilet as "flushable" then yes, flushable wipes are indeed flushable.

Flushable wipes going through the sewer system without causing a problem? Inconceivable! I'm reminded of a scene from one of my very favorite movies:

However, just because you conceivably can flush wipes, does it mean you should flush them?

The answer is a resounding "NO."

According to wastewater experts, the only things that should get flushed are human waste and toilet paper. The rest - wipes, feminine hygiene products, tissues, paper towels, cotton swabs, dental floss - all belong in the trash can for disposal. Medications should also never be flushed. Wastewater treatment facilities aren't typically able to remove these compounds. Seek out local take-back options instead (like the Nebraska MEDS Initiative) or utilize DEA's National Drug Take-Back Days.

What can happen if too much other stuff is flushed down drains or toilets? A whole lotta yuck, that's what. Take this example in Charleston, South Carolina. A series of clogs from wipes required employees to work 24 hours a day for five days to clear them, and even worse, divers to go down 80-90 feet into their system through raw sewage to find the clog.

If you have a septic system, flushing these items is also a terrible idea, filling the tank faster and affecting the system's ability to effectively treat wastewater.

The City of Spokane did a series of experiments showing what happens when common items are flushed down the toilet:

So do your local wastewater utility or septic system a favor - unless it's #1, #2, or toilet paper, keep it out of the toilet!

The Carmel, Indiana (a Groundwater Guardian team) Utility also has a great educational video about improperly flushing items.

No comments: