The use of both disinfectant wipes and personal cleaning wipes is spiking as residents try to 1) protect themselves from COVID-19 and 2) make do with toilet paper shortages. The disposal of these products is creating serious clogs in wastewater infrastructure and costly repairs. Cities are pleading with the public to stop flushing them as blockages and sewage overflows are on the rise.
While toilet paper disintegrates into the tiny cellulose fibers used to create it, flushable wipes hold together better than paper tissue. The labeling on the product is technically correct; you can flush these wipes down a toilet, but they don’t break down like toilet paper or human waste. They fit through the curves in your toilet and enter the three-inch drain pipe in your home. If there’s not enough water to transport this debris through your in-house building drain and outside buried sewer line out to your city sewer, you’ll get a clog.
Wipes are trouble for infrastructure in cities of all sizes, and in all parts of the country. In wastewater systems, wipes can either wrap around and damage equipment or create sewer line blockages. Personal wipes and disinfecting wipes can remain intact through miles of sewer pipes, arriving at municipal sewage treatment plants. Here they clog giant pumps and form massive clogs – which can cost you an expensive emergency plumbing service.
EPA (https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/it-okay-flush-disinfecting-wipes) urges Americans to only flush toilet paper. Sewer backups can be a threat to public health and present a challenge to our water utilities by diverting resources away from the essential work being done to treat and manage our nation’s wastewater. Disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels should never be flushed.
Yes, wastewater treatment plants treat viruses and other pathogens. Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection. The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that “there is no evidence to date that COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems, with or without wastewater treatment.”
Standard treatment and disinfection/processes at wastewater treatment plants are expected to be effective. According to the CDC, while SARS-CoV-2 can be shed in the waste stream from individuals with COVID-19, there is no information to date that anyone has become sick with COVID-19 because of direct exposure to treated or untreated wastewater.
If your home is on septic and you are worried, you can relax. While septic tanks (or decentralized wastewater treatment systems) do not disinfect, EPA reports a properly managed septic system to treat COVID-19 the same way it safely manages other viruses often found in wastewater. Additionally, when properly installed, a septic system is located at a distance and location designed to avoid impacting a water supply well.
Murphy’s law decrees that you’ll have emergency plumbing problems at the worst possible moment. Whether your bad luck is a result of personal hygiene wet wipes or another plumbing trigger, you need help now. If your 2020 calls for emergency plumbing services, Proven Professional Construction Service is the company to call. The emergency plumbing technicians will arrive with the equipment and experience to correct the problem plus keep your family safe.
When it is not an emergency, you can also schedule ahead for:
The emergency plumbing experts at Proven Professional Construction Service have the knowledge, time, or tools necessary to make repairs during a crisis.