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Disposable wipes in the toilet?  bloomer

Disposable wipes in the toilet? bloomer


This article is part of a column rumor detectorClick here for other texts.


In English, the term is stronger: we talk about handkerchiefs ” washable This indicates that it can be safely drained into the toilet bowl.

However, a quick Google search reveals that many media, in english And the in FrenchThey have regularly questioned this claim for years.

napkins composition

Disposable toilet paper is mainly made of paper pulp that can be treated in many ways For reinforcement: for example, by using certain polymers as binders and by creating supportive fabrics by adding fibres. Toilet paper is created differently. Small pieces of wood are cooked with certain chemicals, resulting in wood pulp that forms the basis of the paper along with the water.

There are many environmental concerns about the use of these supposedly “toilet” wipes. Topping the list is the concern that the plastics they contain are ending up in waterways. Because there is already plastic: Although manufacturers generally do not disclose the composition of wet wipes, British study Compared to 2018 Six “throw-in-the-toilet” wipes with seven wipes aren’t meant to be. Polyester, a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum, was detected in all disposable toilet tissues, while on the side of some “breakable” wipes were plastics such as high-density polyethylene. These synthetic materials, which are supposed to be added to wipes to make them more durable, can degrade into microplastics that pollute the environment and can have an impact on the health of animals and humans.

In the end, what distinguishes these “one-time-use” wipes from those that are not? not much. according to Analysis conducted in 2019 Of the 58 types of disposable and non-disposable wet wipes from around the world, they were similar in thickness, size, weight, and response to moisture. The authors concluded that their results support the idea that there is no difference between the different types of wipes.

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Another problem is that the criteria for determining what can be flushed out of the toilet (the “flushability index”) are not clear. In 2019, a team from Ryerson University in Toronto Tested on this topic There are 101 products available in Southern Ontario (including napkins and toilet paper), and half of these are sold as toilet bowls. One of the criteria the researchers chose was dispersion, that is, the rate of product failure – an important condition for preventing tubes from clogging. Only 11 of the 101 products completely disintegrated, and all of them were toilet paper. Cleaning wipes and baby wipes don’t seem to degrade in the toilet.

In this test, one had to flush the toilet (a specially designed laboratory toilet) less than twice as often to completely get rid of toilet paper. To clean wipes, we washed them four times, sometimes more than five times for some baby wipes. The researchers concluded that other than good old toilet paper, none of the other products should end up in the toilet bowl.

Economic problem

Canadian cities are reportedly expected to pay Hundreds of millions of dollars every year Mainly to get rid of blockages caused by napkins. Is that these famous wipes can suck into the sewer Sand, mud, food waste and other productsThis leads to the transformation of waste water into solid waste. These groups even have an English name: “fatbergs”.

Experts say that disintegrating wipes as well as toilet paper do exist, but they are not yet on sale in North America. For now, it is recommended to throw the wipes in the trash. However, within a few years, it is not impossible to finally be flushed down the toilet without contributing to the formation of these Fatberg.

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This article is adapted from the English text of Jonathan Garry Published on the site toMcGill University Science and Society Organization

Photo: Christianson Plumbing