Flushable Items: Are They Really Safe?

We’re all aware of the dangers of flushing non-safe items away down our toilets and drains, causing blockages, backed-up pipes, foul odours and potentially sewer damage. Many of us will even have a fairly good idea as to what the common culprits are in this respect, such as sanitary towels, cotton buds, makeup products and generally anything that’s not toilet paper (which itself can cause issues if flushed in excessive amounts).

In recent years, manufacturers have begun to develop sanitary products and wipes that are safe to flush away. But do these items really cause no problems with your drains?

finger pushing button flushing toilet

What The Local Authorities Say…

Local water authorities would say no, and many have expressed concern that these products still create many of the issues in public drains and municipal sewers that their “non-safe” versions do. One of the main concerns is the size of the pipes designed to carry waste out to the sewer network. Most domestic drainpipes are only 10cm in diameter, meaning that it doesn’t take much to cause a blockage.

However, this does not advocate the flushing of small items, such as cotton buds, as these could easily slip through filters designed to stop unauthorised waste from passing from water treatment plants into natural rivers and streams.

Who Determines What Is ‘Flushable’?

With over half of all flooded sewers the result of unsanctioned items ending up in networks, many organisations have moved to set up some form of governing protocol to determine what constitutes a flushable product.

Water UK is one such group, and they have introduced their Sewerage Network Abuse Prevention (SNAP) organisation to collaborate with research being undertaken into the negative effects of flushing these items. SNAP also aims to define flushable products, making it easier to implement laws and regulation as to their disposal.

Currently, there is no assessment process for this in the UK (a test protocol has been developed in the USA by the Water Environment Research Foundation, but is yet to be fully implemented), and Water UK believes this is the next logical step towards reducing the amount of non-flushable products ending up in sewer networks.

Fixing broken drains and sewers costs local water authorities (and, consequently, their customers) millions every year, and manufacturers are invited to test all products they consider flushable using the SNAP protocol. Only items that pass this will be recognised as such by the water industry.

Suffering Yourself From Troubled Drains?

Here at Express Drainage Solutions, we are on hand to provide expert drain clearance and unblocking services for customers across London and the surrounding areas. Our expert team will carry out thorough examinations of your drains using CCTV to determine the root cause of the blockage, before performing high pressure water jetting to clear any obstruction.

Keeping your drains clear from blockages by avoiding disposing of anything considered non-flushable is the best approach to take, but should your pipes or sewers suffer any issues, contact the team at Express Drainage Solutions today – our CCTV drain surveys are free of charge for your convenience!

Want more information?Contact us today on 020 3124 1785

EDS unblocked and repaired over 20,000 drains last year for the residents and businesses of London.

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