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Flushable’ Wipes Force Divers to Travel 80-90 Feet in Raw Sewage to Clear Clogs

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Think before you flush — and don’t flush down those wipes. That’s the message that Charleston, South Carolina, water system officials want to get out, after their divers spent five days swimming through sewage gathering up “flushable” wipes that were clogging the system. Fox 59 said the divers were in total darkness at the Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant 24 hours a day in 80- to 90-feet-deep raw sewage as they dug with their hands to bring up large masses of wipes.

Plant officials pleaded with people not to flush wipes down the toilet, and to use only nonwoven, biodegradable toilet tissues, aka toilet paper.

So-called flushable wipes have been the bane of wastewater treatment plants for years, as they cause overflows and sewage backups, getting caught in sewage pumps and other equipment. In other words, no matter what it says on the packaging they are NOT flushable. And, they’re not cheap, either, especially when they end up in treatment plants. We don’t know yet how much it cost Charleston to clean up their mess, but between 2010 and 2015, New York City spent more than $18 million dealing with these things.

Aside from the ‘no wipes down the pipes’ message that Charleston wants to get out, there are other health warnings that you need to know about on the front end, so to speak. The damage that these NON-biodegradable wipes do extends to the environment, to the point that they’re even being found washed up on beaches, probably a result of choked sewers overflowing and then running off into waterways that pour into lakes and oceans.

If you needed a more personal reason not to use wipes, though, be forewarned that researchers now believe that the routine use of wet wipes appears to be a significant contributor to the rise in childhood food allergies. Chemicals found in the wipes can break down the top layer of your skin, allowing the skin to absorb allergens that can trigger allergic reactions, especially if your child carries genes that alter their skin absorbency.

Therefore, the best way to clean your baby is with mild soap and lukewarm water, along with a soft cloth and a light touch to dry.

For the rest of us, the answer is to only use toilet paper designated as unwoven and biodegradable — or, better yet, try using a bidet, which is as refreshing as a wet wipe and gentler than paper. One note: I realize that most homes in the U.S. don’t automatically come with bidets, but it’s not hard to install bidet seats, which are placed on top of a regular toilet seat. These toilet seat bidets also cost far less than installing a regular bidet.

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