No Toilet Littering, do not flush Sign

Building occupants might not think they are doing any harm by flushing items down toilets and rains, but cleaning experts argue otherwise. Even seeming harmless items — such as a thread of dental floss or a contact lens — can contaminate waterways if they’re flushed down a toilet or swirled down a sink drain.

The New York Times reports that bits of plastic contact lenses are believed to be contributing to the growing problem of microplastic pollution. Larger products like wipes and tampons are also clogging sewer systems, resulting in billions of dollars in maintenance and repair costs.

Custodial professionals can help stem the tide by sharing information on non-flushable items with building occupants. Among the items that belong in a garbage can, rather than the toilet are:

• Disposable wipes. Many wipes claim to be “flushable,” but almost all of them contain rayon or viscose, which aren’t easily degraded.

• Tampons. Their absorbent materials do not break down easily and cannot be processed by wastewater treatment centers.

• Facial tissues, paper towels and cotton swabs. Unlike toilet paper, tissues, towels and swabs have often been treated with a chemical binder that takes time to release and break apart when flushed.

• Dental floss. Dental floss is usually made of nylon or Teflon and tends to wrap up other trash to clog pipes and waterways.

• Contact lenses. Lenses don’t biodegrade easily and can cause environmental damage when they make their way into surface water. They are impervious to the bacteria that break down biological waste at treatment plants.

• Medication. Treatment plants are not designed to filter out drugs, so they can end up entering streams, rivers and lakes.

To keep things simple: If it is not human waste or toilet paper, it should not be disposed of in the toilet.

Read the full article here.