We Love Water
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IMPACT

Sewer systems in cities under siege;

an open window to the ocean.

 
 

Cities around the world are confronting a common menace that has gummed the gears of plumbing networks: the flushing of wet wipes and other non-biodegradable items; with catastrophic environmental and economic consequences.

 
 

Plastic in wipes means, if flushed down the toilet, they threaten our oceans.

 
 

Sewage originates primarily from domestic, commercial, and industrial sources. In many developed countries, these wastes typically are delivered either to on-site septic systems or to centralized sewage treatment facilities. In both methods, sewage is treated before being discharged, either underground (in the case of septic tanks) or to receiving surface-water bodies (in the case of sewage treatment plants), typically a stream, river, or coastal outlet.

From the time it takes the water from the WC or the tap to pass through the drain until it reaches the treatment plant can take up to 24 hours, which vary depending on the sewer system.

Wipes and other non-biodegradable items are made up of fibers of natural origin and synthetic fibers, which are what gives it that resistance. A wipe can take 30 days to biodegrade, although there are materials that will not disappear like polyester or polypropylene over years. Taking into account these details, wet wipes reach the sewer at almost the same condition as if they were brand new, because the agitation that occurs while down the sanitation network does not undo them, which slows down and destroys the normal functioning of sewage systems.

Although sewage treatment facilities are designed to accommodate and treat sewage from their service area, partly treated or even untreated sewage sometimes is discharged into oceans and rivers. Causative factors include facility malfunctions or heavy rainfall events which overwhelm systems using combined sewers and stormwater drains (known as combined sewer overflows). ‘Fatbergs’ are formed by wet wipes mixed with other substances such as oils creating blockages in the system.

Plastic in our oceans is a worldwide concern, however, wipes and other non-biodegradable items continue to be flushed down the pipes of homes, that in case of eventual sewage discharges, threaten our oceans and, in consequence, human life.

 

1 in 4 people in Sydney

FLUSH WET WIPES

13 tons of fatberg in London

biggest removed

 

1.4 Kg / citizen in Barcelona

rubbish thrown annually into the toilet

18 mio USD in New York

cost of Public money due to wipe flushing

 
 
 

Nanoplastics can enter the human food chain damaging the human health.

 
 

Wet wipes, as well as other non-biodegradable items, contain polyesters with long degradation time. There is a considerable risk that those fibres in the environment releases nano-sized particles known as nanoplastics, according to a new study from Lund University.

The study relates to the larger issue of what happens to plastic in the environment and how plastic can affect animals and humans. Plastic nano-sized particles are a few millionths of a millimetre, i.e. extremely small particles, so small that they can be swallowed by barnacles, scallops, crabs and fish, which runs the risk that they can impact through the food chain of nanoparticles on human health.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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