Can tampons be flushed down the toilet?

The title of this article may have a very obvious answer for some, while for others it is cause for discussion and doubts. The truth is that not just flush tampons down the toilet it is harmful to the environment and plumbing, but throwing many other objects is also harmful.

"The toilets are not trash cans" (‘Toilets are not trashcans’ according to its English form). This is the phrase from a famous campaign launched by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). It is an organization that looks after the interests of public wastewater treatment facilities in the United States.

In the UK, on ​​the other hand, two billion menstrual items are shed per year. While in New York alone, some 19 million dollars have been allocated in recent years to repair clogs in the pipes. Meanwhile, in Europe the elimination of menstrual waste takes between 500 and 1000 million euros.

Why shouldn't tampons be flushed down the toilet?

Tampons and other menstrual products, such as wipes, are made from materials that are ultra absorbent. When you throw tampons down the toilet they get wet, they swell absorbing a lot of liquid and their size increases. In this way, they get stuck in the pipes and cause them to clog.

On the other hand, if they manage to pass through the pipes and reach the sewage treatment plants, they will not be able to pass through their filters and will go directly to the sea or rivers. Once there, they will contaminate not only the water, but also the beaches and surroundings, since their material does not degrade easily, such as toilet paper.

You may be interested in reading: How to eliminate bad smell from pipes at home

Isn't it the same as toilet paper?

The tampon boxes clarify that They cannot be flushed down the toilet and they cannot be recycled. Moreover, in some cases it is added that they should not be processed in the plants intended for the treatment of wastewater and that they can damage the septic chambers.

This gives us the clue that a tampon is not similar to toilet paper in material and decomposition. Toilet paper is designed and manufactured to disintegrate immediately after being used and thrown into the sewer. It degrades almost completely (95% in just 20 minutes). Wipes take hundreds of years.

Toilet paper does not have the same composition as tampons, so they cannot be compared in their degradation process.

What are the main negative effects?

As we've already seen, flushing tampons is not a viable option for a number of reasons. Among them, the most important are the following:

  • Household plumbing obstruction: tampons could get stuck in pipes and cause sewage to flow down household sinks. This situation is risky for health due to the large amount of bacteria that these liquids contain.
  • Collapse of the sewage system of a community: If we multiply the amount of tampons and other menstrual waste by all the homes in a town (and not to mention large cities) the picture is tremendous. Thousands of tampons will end up in the sewers. This can generate a huge expense for the government to make the corresponding arrangements that, ultimately, we all pay with taxes.
  • Environmental pollution: all tampons and other waste that are generated with menstruation end up in the oceans and other water courses. In the case of wipes, they are made up of up to 90% plastic materials and take hundreds of years to degrade.

Other products that should not be flushed down the toilet

In addition to tampons and wipes, there are other items that we cannot flush down the toilet. They are common objects that seem innocuous, but cause enormous damage:

  • Condoms: they get stuck in the pipes and do not degrade as they are made of latex and are designed not to break easily.
  • Cat litter and feces: they contain a parasite that is not eliminated by treatment in sewage plants. It is detrimental to people's health. Likewise, sand can completely block pipes and cause a real mess.
  • Hair: It is very common to clean the hairbrush and flush the hair we remove from it into the toilet. It is a very serious error because a ball forms that gets stuck in the toilet siphon or in the toilet drain.
  • Cotton and makeup remover wipes: they do not break or disintegrate easily. You also won't notice the clog as quickly as tampons or wipes, but over time they will form a ball of fat.
  • Oils and chemicals: In the case of vegetable oils, grease balls are made that make it difficult for air to escape from the pipes and cause a very bad smell. Likewise, soaps and detergents have substances that promote the formation of algae that are harmful to aquatic life.
  • Cigarette butts: They do not go away with the first discharge and once they enter the pipes they carry all their chemicals with them and contaminate the water network.

A common habit is to flush the hairs from the brush into the toilet, but this is also bad for the pipes.

It may interest you: Why clean the hair brush? Tips to do it

Don't flush tampons down the toilet: how to get rid of them

Finally, to dispose of tampons correctly you must wrap them in toilet paper and throw them in the trash can. There are also some bowls designed for this purpose that can be carried in the wallet.

On the other hand, we want to encourage the use of eco-friendly menstrual items. In this sense, we can mention the menstrual cup as a method that little by little is imposed among women. They are made of latex and reusable.

Further, there are reusable cotton sanitary napkinsAs well as underwear designed for menstruation that can be used more than once. However, if none of these eco-friendly options is comfortable, it is advisable to opt for biodegradable tampons or wipes.

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