Quantcast

Are You Flushing Your Baby Wipes Down the Toilet? Here's Why You Shouldn't

Sanitary wipes are causing a crisis in sewer processing plants in New York City and urban areas across the country, according to reports from the New York Times, Washington Post and Bloomberg News.

Sanitary wipes are causing a crisis in sewer processing plants.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The wipes, which consumers—especially parents of babies and young children—have been using in increasing numbers in recent years are being flushed down toilets, clogging the sewer system and causing millions of dollars in equipment damage. Reports of damage have been found in some of the most populated areas of the U.S., including New York City, Washington DC, Orange County, California and the San Francisco Bay Area.

City officials are now being forced to use additional grinding machinery to dispose of the waste, and come up with costly measures to change residents’ perceptions about how to dispose of sanitary wipes.

In New York City, a bill supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio was introduced in February to stop wipe companies from advertising their products as flushable. The city’s environmental staff has also begun a public awareness campaign to inform residents that they should be throwing wipes in the trash.

“A growing number of adults think that if it’s good for baby, it’s good for them,” Vincent Sapienza, deputy commissioner of the city Department of Environmental Protection told Bloomberg News. “Many brands may say they’re flushable, but they wind up in our sewer plants fully intact.”

“The average consumer believes if a product clears their toilet bowl, it’s flushable,” Jamie Rosenberg, a Chicago-based household and personal-care analyst for Mintel, told Bloomberg News. “People in their homes have no idea what’s going on downstream.”

Research suggests that wipes have grown in popularity among adults as well—one report cited in the Bloomberg News article suggests that from 2008 to 2013, sales of the moist flushable wipes had grown 23 percent to $367 million.

Clearer rules about which household products are “flushable” may get federal oversight—according to the Washington Post, officials of the wastewater industry and wipe manufacturers say the Federal Trade Commission recently asked for information as part of an investigation into the “flushable” label.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Watch Bill Gates Drink Water From Human Waste

New Guide to Flame Retardants in Baby Products

Baby Sea Turtles at Risk from Plastic Pollution

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

belchonock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Coconut oil is an incredibly healthy fat.

Read More Show Less
Wesley Martinez Da Costa / EyeEm / Getty Images

By David R. Montgomery

Would it sound too good to be true if I was to say that there was a simple, profitable and underused agricultural method to help feed everybody, cool the planet, and revitalize rural America? I used to think so, until I started visiting farmers who are restoring fertility to their land, stashing a lot of carbon in their soil, and returning healthy profitability to family farms. Now I've come to see how restoring soil health would prove as good for farmers and rural economies as it would for the environment.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less