At one point or another, we all allow substances into the drains that never should enter it in the first place - whether it's accidentally, or because we don't know any better. It's important to be aware of the consequences of everything that goes down the drain. While water treatment facilities do wonders to purifying the water we pollute, they can only do so much. Some of the substances that enter our water supply cannot break down and end up polluting our precious water sources.
When you next decide to dispose of something down the drain, be sure that it is not one of the following:
"Flushable" items, such as scrub pads, paper towels, pre-moistened wipes, cotton balls and flushable cat litter
Toilet paper is specifically formulated to break down in the septic tank or sewer, but other paper is designed to be much more sturdy. Paper products such as paper towel and baby wipes are biodegradable, but they will still clog up your drain pipes which is why they should never be flushed.
When a cat litter product is marketed as "flushable", be cautious. Firstly, it can never be good for drains, and secondly, cat feces may harbour parasites that causes toxoplasmosis that cannot be destroyed by water treatment. It presents a huge danger to marine life.
Fats, oils and grease (FOGs)
Let's be honest - we've all been tempted to wash the grease from the frying pan down the drain. But please beware of the issues that causes. FOGs solidify when they are cooled down and end up congealing inside the pipes, causing nasty clogs. If it washes all the way down, it can wreck the sewage treatment plants and the natural balance of waterways, plant-, marine- and other wildlife.
Toxic chemicals, such as cleaning products, solvents and paint
While water treatment facilities can remove many contaminants from the water supply, many others will end up in oceans, lakes and rivers. Toxins from pesticides, chlorine from bleach and phosphates found in detergents damage fragile ecosystems. Opt for eco-friendly cleaners that are made with oxygen, citrus and enzymes, and find a waste center where you can drop off toxic chemicals.
It is estimated that one third of all medications sold are never used, and many people flush unused liquids and pills down the toilet. Unfortunately, these items find their way into natural waterways. That is why our drinking water supplies are polluted with antidepressants, ibuprofen, antibiotics and birth control. Speak to your pharmacist about finding a medicine take-back program instead.
Eggshells and coffee grounds
When coffee grounds and eggshells break up, they form sand like particles that stick to the inside of pipes, causing potential blockages, especially in bends. Both these items can be disposed of in your home compost heap instead.
If you have small children, be sure to teach them not to throw any inappropriate items into the toilet or into the drains. Every month, Anta Plumbing removes toys, dead gold-fish, rats and many other inappropriate items from drains across Toronto. Save your pocket and safe the precious water resources by minding what goes down the toilet and kitchen drains.