Niagara Gazette

September 23, 2013

What not to flush: Wipes among items jamming pipes

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Wastewater officials across the country have been trying to spread the message that not just anything can go down the toilet, and they have recently taken aim at wipes.

A public awareness campaign by the Orange County Sanitation District in California called "What 2 Flush" emphasizes that the toilet is meant only for the three Ps — pee, poop and toilet paper. It even says facial tissues are too sturdy to be flushed. Among the more unusual items it says people commonly flush that risk causing clogs: cat litter, condoms and dental floss.

A study by the Portland Water District in Maine in 2011 analyzed what was causing clogs in their sewer pipes and came up with this analysis:

• 42 percent paper products, including paper towels

• 24 percent baby wipes

• 17 percent hygiene products, including feminine pads and tampons

• 8 percent "flushable" wipes

• Remainder, other items, including household wipes, cosmetic pads and medical materials.