Used wipes that are flushed down toilets ‘feed’ the formation of fatbergs in sewers. Scott Stanfield photo

Flushed wipes clog sewer systems

Think twice before flushing that disinfectant wipe.

It will block pipes, and contribute to the formation of fatbergs — large masses of solid waste that clog sewage systems.

READ: Turkey tips for trimming the fat

Sales of cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers have surged during the coronavirus pandemic. Municipalities in B.C. are imploring the public to toss wipes in the garbage.

According to the Comox Valley Regional District, wipes will “twist up in the system and actually become stronger as they become more like rope.” They also tangle with dental floss, hair and grease, which works like a glue or bonding agent.

Unlike toilet paper, wipes don’t easily break down when flushed, even those labelled ‘flushable.’ As they travel through a sewer system, wipes can clog sewer lines, pumps and pipes — which can cause backed-up pipes, flooded basements and sewage spills.

“The flushing of ‘flushable’ wipes are increasing pump station maintenance,” the City of Courtenay states on its website.

Along with wipes, the City asks residents to never flush paper towels, tampons, condoms, dental floss, hair, medications, vitamins, fats, oils and grease.

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