Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

Pie Ranch in San Mateo, California, is a highly diverse farm that has both organic and food justice certification. Katie Greaney

By Elizabeth Henderson

Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:

Read More Show Less
A woman walks to her train in Grand Central Terminal as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on March 27. John Lamparski / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
polaristest / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Spinach is a true nutritional powerhouse, as it's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jeff Turrentine

From day to day, our public health infrastructure — the people and systems we've put in place to keep populations, as opposed to individuals, healthy — largely goes unnoticed. That's because when it's working well, its success takes the form of utter normalcy.

Read More Show Less