Presentation on theme: "Flushable Wipes We know we have a problem. What can we do about it?"— Presentation transcript:
Flushable Wipes We know we have a problem. What can we do about it?
WHAT ARE PUBLIC AGENCIES DOING ABOUT THE PROBLEM? COMPLAINING MORE LINE CLEANING MORE EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE & PUMP UNCLOGGING PUMP REPLACEMENT PUBLIC OUTREACH
WHAT DOES THE PUBLIC THINK? HOW ARE THEY AFFECTED? Plugged toilets. Clogged laterals. Interior water damage. Plumbing repairs. ARE THEY CONCERNED? Consumers continue buying products. Consumers appreciate the convenience of flushing. Consumers love to “flush” germs rather than store them in the trashcan. Manufacturers continue trying to make everything known to man flushable. DO THEY EVEN KNOW THERE IS A PROBLEM? Probably a small percentage. (See next slide) IF THEY KNEW THERE WAS A PROBLEM WOULD THEY CARE? Only if it is costing them money or inconvenience.
Mental Poo Blog Flushable Wipes, My Ass! Flushable Wipes, My Ass! Flushable Wipes, My Ass! Thank you, Kleenex, for my E-Coli poisoning. I was reading another blog the other day, which recounted how their basement was flooded. Although we’ve had our share of water around my house, the closest I've ever come to having water in my basement was a horrific incident almost solely caused by the Kleenex company. That’s right. Flushable Wipes are the Devil.
…first…a bit of background… I have two kids. My oldest daughter is 7 years old. About 7-1/2 years ago, we were in the process of building an addition to our house. This addition included a ¾ bath. The sewer pipes leading from this bathroom out to the street wind through our basement, at a height approximately 5 or 6 inches above my head. If you do the math, you’ll find that my daughter was still of that magical diaper age. Yes...it's the age of wonder where every bodily function ends up in a giant heap of stink smashed against their bottoms...requiring parental intervention to mop up the crime scene. Kids, being what they are, don’t care where they crap or pee. Typically, they’ll do this where and when you don’t want them to, like – say – standing in line at the DMV when you're next in line...and it now smells like the very bowels of Hell have opened and YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR KID NOW!!! When a child poops in a diaper, it is akin to discovering a body in the woods…and
said body was dismembered by an army of poo-wielding chainsaw madmen. There’s a hideous, horrifying stench. …and there’s a magnificent, fantastical mess. To quote my previous post, "Poo Marbles and Mona Lisa": Baby poo is disgusting. Right out of the chute, baby poo resembles tar and smells like - if I may be so bold - Armageddon. Once again, the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse - Stinky - rears his ugly head. Cleaning up this mess is not only an effort in intestinal fortitude…but it’s also a bitch on the mellifluous odor of your house. Because, unlike toilet paper…you can’t flush a diaper. You have to find a "Diaper Genie" to store them....or throw them out......or hide them really well. Poo Marbles and Mona LisaPoo Marbles and Mona Lisa But…then…we heard of the miracle of the Flushable Wipe.
OH! Flushable Wipes! It's a wipe! It's FLUSHABLE! Wipe the bum! Collect the poo! Flush it away! (Just like what Daddy does with his poo…except his is much, much larger...would take an entire container of wipes to clean...and (HEALTH WARNING FOR PARENTS) may contain peanuts) Anway...so we bought the Flushable Wipes...and we used them… …and we flushed them… But kids keep pooing. So we used more. …and flushed ‘em. Until…one day…the Jed Clampett in me noticed that up from our new shower came a’bubblin’ crude. Poo that is. Brown Gold.…and some pee. The sight of the brownish water floating in the bottom of our shower, along with the flurry of little brown canoes, tipped me off.
We had ourselves a clog somewhere downstream from the bathroom. We figured that the problem had to be the very slight slope of the pipes. However, my contractor is akin to a giant, so I try to not scold him very often. So we called a company who came and cleared out the pipes for us using a giant “Arm of Death”, and gas masks. This arm thing was SO COOL - it reminded me of a movie I saw as a kid called "The Black Hole" (not the same movie that I have hidden elsewhere in my house), and the evil robot had arms JUST LIKE THIS. For a minute, I wanted to be a rooter. The Black HoleThe Black Hole
Then I watched them work on poopy pipes. And the feeling left quickly. Anyway, within an hour, the pipe was cleared. Life went on. And we kept wiping our daughter’s bum... And flushing those damn wipes... And sure as you know what….we got ourselves another little brown oasis in the bottom of the shower after a while. Sonofagun. Now…I happened to be watching the Roto guy who came the last time. I watched him intently...so I knew (KNEW) what I had to do... I watched him enter our basement, and check the pipes leading above my head snaking through the rooms. He tapped on them…apparently checking that the immediate area was free and clear......then…
…he opened them up. On the corner of one of the pipes, where it took a bend, was a plate that would open with the turn of a wrench, allowing you to look inside. At the time, after tapping on the pipes, he opened the plate and could see where the clog was a little further down. Piece of cake. I went downstairs, armed with a wrench, a bucket, and my faithful wife beside me...ready to clear the clog. Raising the wrench to the plate just above my face, I began turning. …please note, at this point, that I neglected to tap on the pipe. …which - unbeknownst to me - happened to be completely backed up with poo...and pee...and God knows what else. Had I tapped on the friggin' thing...things may have turned out differently...but... At about a quarter turn, the plate let go with the force of several hundred gallons of sewage stopped upstream of it. This plate plunked off of my forehead, before landing on the ground. …leaving me staring at a four-inch wide pipe hole…which was now emptying it’s contents onto my face...think, the scene
hot Jennifer Beals covered in water...you have a 5'2" guy drowning in sewage. So...HOT. And there...watching me fight off this torrent of poopy-caca... My wife...laughing hysterically. Like Ernest Borgnine fighting in Poseidon...I'm screaming, "GET THE PLUG!!! GET THE PLUG!!!" It took three tries to get that damn thing in....mainly because my wife was busy crying from laughing so hard that she was too busy to actually hand me the damn plug. Once we got things settled and got the plumbers back, we were advised of the following:
You're not supposed to flush the Flushable Wipes. They clog pipes. Oh, they clog pipes, do they? No sh*t. You know how I know that, Mr. Plumber? I know that because I look like this: Flushable wipes, my ass. Flushable wipes that aren't flushable. Consider yourself warned.
WE KNOW WE HAVE A PROBLEM SO WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP ? MORE RESEARCH DEVELOP PROTOCOLS FOR TESTING FLUSHABILITY OF PRODUCTS DEVELOP BETTER METHODS FOR CLEARING BLOCKAGES DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE DISPOSAL ROUTES FOR THESE PRODUCTS EDUCATE THE PUBLIC WORK WITH THE PRODUCT MANUFACTURERS LEGISLATION AS A LAST RESORT
EXAMPLES RESEARCH Current Research Projects Impact on the Drainage System from Disposable Products Sustainability of Disposal Routes for Sanitary Products DEVELOP TESTING PROTOCOLS Current Protocol Development Development of a Mathematical Model for Physical Disintegration of Flushable Consumer Products in Wastewater Systems Protocols to Assess the Breakdown of Flushable Consumer Products-WERF Study EDUCATION/CONSUMER OUTREACH Television Commercials Radio Commercials Internet Websites Flyers Newspaper Articles
“Flushable” products “Flushable” means product goes down the toilet and doesn’t clog on its way. Products can catch on rough surfaces inside iron pipes and cause clogs. So-called “flushable” products may confuse people into thinking all cloths, disposable or not, are “flushable.” There are no truly “flushable” washcloths. Brown S, To flush or not to flush; disposable vs. basin bath?, Healthcare Purchasing News, Sept 2004.
“ Dispersible ” products “Dispersible” means product dissolves and becomes part of water flow. Toilet paper is dispersible. Sage Products’ Comfort® Personal Cleansing products are not “flushable” or “dispersible.” Brown S, To flush or not to flush; disposable vs. basin bath?, Healthcare Purchasing News, Sept 2004.
Proper disposal DO NOT flush pre-moistened washcloths, towels, diapers, etc. Flush toilet paper ONLY. Do not dispose of non-flushable items in bedside commodes. Put non-flushable items in the trash.
Help protect our facility Flushing of non-flushable items can cause serious plumbing problems. Proper disposal is critical to our facility’s operations. All staff members need to work together to encourage proper disposal.This is a house-wide issue.
Educate patients and staff Talk to patients and family members about proper disposal. When using a Comfort® Personal Cleansing product, remind patients and family members not to flush. Display educational materials in patient rooms and bathrooms.
What are the Manufacturers Doing About This Problem? Nothing. Business as usual. Some are manufacturing smaller sized wipes (they still don’t disperse). This requires no new equipment or technology. Some, like Chlorox and SC Johnson, are actually developing a “new” flushable spunlace wipe that have very low wet strength (half of a standard flushable). These still are capable of hanging up on roots or in pumps or bar screens. Others like Kimberly-Clark have developed an actual dispersible wipe ( the Cottonelle Rollwipe) using a reversible ionic bond for strength but which disperses in the toilet.
Working With The Product Manufacturers INDA (Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry). EDANA (International association serving the nonwovens and related industries). In 2004 INDA formed a Flushability Task Force and embarked on a 2 year study to develop standards and guidelines for assessing the flushability of products and to develop a test method for the approach. Biggest hurdle was arriving at an agreed-to definition of flushability. The Report entitled “WIPES-Nonwoven Industry Outlook-Trends and Forecasts for North America 2008-2013” will be available shortly. You can order now at the ridiculously low price of $3000 for non-members. No hint as what the report might say. Require warning labels on products, such as: “This product is NOT dispersible”. “This product may cause clogs in obstructed drainlines”. “This product may clog ejector and grinder pumps”. “This product will end up on a screen in the wastewater treatment plant”.
LEGISLATION This problem is much larger than just a local or regional issue. It probably will require national attention to address a reasonable solution. National Associations such as the Water Environment Research Federation (WERF), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA) will have to get involved and lobby heavily for new legislation.
REFERENCES Mental Poo Website Blog Water Portfolio Website WRc The Free Library by Farlex The West Seattle Herald newspaper SAGE Products, Inc.