Not everything belongs in a toilet. The best way to guarantee a future sewer blockage at your home (or your neighbour's house) is to introduce unflushable items into our sanitary sewer system.
Many household items like baby wipes, paper towels, diapers, and food waste can cause build-up and blockages. Even products promoted as "flushable" don't always break down in the sanitary sewer system. Hazardous chemicals like pesticides, paints, and solvents can also potentially harm our sanitary sewer crews who labour to keep the system running.
What's Considered "Unflushable"?
The following list of items is by no means exhaustive and is only a handful of examples. The general rule to remember is the only things that are truly safe to flush are toilet paper and human waste.
- Food waste (e.g. coffee grounds)
- Wrappers (e.g. plastic, paper)
- Baby wipes
- "Flushable" wipes
- Facial tissue
- Paper towels
- Hygiene products (e.g. cotton balls/swabs, dental floss)
Fats, Oil, and Grease
Fats, oil, and grease (FOG) are major contributors to sewer blockages. These substances will solidify and build up inside sanitary sewer pipes and even small amounts of "FOG" over time can cause costly and dangerous sewer backups.
To put things into perspective, routine grease removal from our sewer system costs the City $170,000 every year. Even with regular maintenance, blockages caused by FOG and other substances cost the City an extra $250,000 per year.
Hazardous Waste Disposal
Never flush hazardous items down drains. Substances like paint and pesticides that enter the sewer system are a major threat to public health, the environment, and our sewer system. Dangerous waste that must never be flushed includes:
- Primers, stains, solvents, and glue.
- Motor oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, antifreeze, and windshield fluid.
- Household cleaning products like bleach and drain cleaners.
- Personal care products like nail polish remover.
Disposing of Medications
Do not flush medications down the toilet, pour them down the sink, or throw them away in the garbage.
Return unused or expired medication to local pharmacies that take part in the Health Products Stewardship Association's (HPSA) take-back program for safe disposal.
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