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Masks and gloves getting flushed down toilets, clogging King County pipes

Only human waste and toilet paper should go in the toilet – anything else belongs in the trash. (King County Wastewater Treatment Division)

It’s been two months since we reminded you that disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products cannot go in the toilet. It looks like some of you aren’t getting the message.

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Sewer pipes and pumping stations are still being clogged daily by things that do not belong in the waste water. That includes wipes, diapers, hygiene products, and now, personal protective equipment.

“We have seen an uptick in disposable personal protective equipment,” Marie Fiore of the King County Wastewater Treatment Division said. “Obviously, used gloves and masks are trash, and they need to go in the garbage. Toilets are not trash cans.”

Fiore has been banging this drum for two months now, and still people are tossing these items in the toilet.

“Gloves and masks and all of those disinfecting wipes, and baby wipes, and sanitary products, and Q-tips all can clog our system,” she said. “They get stuck in the pumps, and they can cause serious damage to our sewer system.”

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Disposable masks and gloves tossed on the ground go right into the system as well with a good rain.

King County has not suffered any significant damage to the system so far, but that’s because there are workers unclogging the pipes 24 hours a day. Fiore is hoping that the public will eventually get it.

“I’m hoping that the more we talk about it, the more people will realize that not everything can go in the toilet,” she said. “Only human waste and toilet paper.”

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