Dr Oz Goes Into the Sewer
Dr Oz always says to look before you flush, and this time he had a new reason. Do you use Flushable Wipes in the bathroom? Dr Oz said he had too, until he read an article that changed his perceptions.
This relatively new bathroom accessory seems convenient and refreshing. But what happens to those wipes once they go down the drain? Dr Oz visited a waste and sewage facility to find out what happens after you flush.
Dr Oz: New York City Waste Treatment
Manager Jim Penn at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant got Doctor Oz to suit up and go into the belly of the beast, which apparently smelled terrible. Where do those wipes end up?
Toilet paper breaks down, but wipes are still in their solid form by the time they reach treatment facilities. Tens of thousands of these wipes come into the facility on a daily basis. Elsewhere, Dr Oz was put to work dealing with the excess of wipes, which simply end up in the dumpster.
Dr Oz: Where Do Flushable Wipes End Up?
Dr Oz and Jim climbed into a huge dumpster that was full of nothing but dried wipes, which probably smelled horrible. He said that he was convinced he should switch back to toilet paper instead.
Back at the studio, he talked with viewer Anna, who also uses Flushable Wipes in her bathroom. She has always looked for the word ‘flushable’ on the package, but not everyone does. Products such as Baby Wipes cause problems of their own if they are not flushable.
Dr Oz: Do Flushable Wipes Break Down?
Dr Oz used stand mixers to simulate what happens to these products when you flush. He compared toilet paper to a non-flushable wipe. Though the toilet paper broke up quickly, the wet wipe stayed completely intact.
The show’s testing found that the wipe did not break down in water after at least 48 hours. Anna was surprised that these products could be sold to consumers.
Dr Oz: Wipes Are Indestructible?
Civil engineer Cynthia Finley, director of regulatory affairs at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, has been working to find a solution for the past five years. Have things gotten better over the years?
Finley said that these wipes are indestructible. Some products break down a little bit, but none are as biodegradable as toilet paper.
Dr Oz: Flushable Wipes Wet Toilet Paper Alternative
What did Kimberly-Clark, a manufacturer of flushable wipes, have to say about these products? A portion of their statement seen on the show said:
“…All Kimberly-Clark products labeled as flushable meet or exceed the current industry guidelines.”
Dr Oz pointed out that Kimberly-Clark is following industry guidelines, but Finley said the guidelines need to be improved and consistently enforced. Dr Oz said consumers can force this change, and in the meantime, Finley said nothing should be flushed other than pee, poop, and toilet paper.
How can you get a cleaner feel without using a wipe? Dr Oz’s solution was to keep a spray bottle of water in the bathroom so you can moisten toilet paper before you wipe. (In a pinch, he said you can spit on the paper, such as when you are using a public restroom.)