Almost all of us have flushed something down the toilet at one time or another that we shouldn’t have. Expired medications, a failed dinner attempt and old cleaning products are just a few examples of things we dispose of without much forethought. What really does happen to those things we flush? Of course the answer is different if you are on private septic verses town sewer but in either case flushing anything chemical or medical is a very bad idea.
Water treatment facilities, even the most sophisticated, are not set up to filter or destroy these kinds of things from the waste stream. Treatment systems are designed to deal with liquid and solid waste in their simplest form. Anything other than these will inevitably wind up in the water supply. Mass flushing of expired medications has contributed to increased bacterial resistance to pharmaceuticals. Flushing of cleaning chemicals has led to poisoning of aquatic environments and can also corrode your pipes over time. Even cosmetics have chemical substances that are not removed by water treatment.
So what can we do? The best approach follows the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Try not to buy too much excess. Buy only what you know you will need and use. Then try to finish all your products in the recommended way before you buy more. As of right now the best way to dispose of lotions and cosmetics is to put them in the trash. Landfills have plastic barriers that separate the trash from the ground. Although this is not the perfect solution, it reduces the risk of contaminating the soil and ground water.
Ask your pharmacy about the correct way to dispose of medications you buy. Quite often the best solution is to seal the medication with the childproof cap it came with and then tape it shut before placing it into the trash. For liquid medications or liquid cleaners you cannot use, fill an empty milk container with kitty litter and then pour the liquid inside. It will be absorbed and there will be less chance of it ruining the environment. Of course the best solution of all would be to find less toxic cleaning products. There are many green cleaning products available in stores and plenty of information out there about how to make your own…effective AND safe, what could be better?
Flushed something down the toilet and need a plumber? Call Kerivan-Lane@ (781) 444-0279. We have many experienced plumbers on staff who would be happy to help.