Authorities ask the community to dispose of gloves and baby cloths only in the trash and thus avoid complications during the pandemic

At this point, it is likely that several already have essential items in their homes, such as food, hygiene products – and especially toilet paper – to be prepared during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works reported that two weeks ago it began to see in the drains various materials that should not be there such as fabrics, disinfecting towels, gloves, shirts, baby cloths, among others, that they are flushed down the toilet.

"Using these products can cause a lot of problems," said Edel Vizcarra, government relations representative for the Public Works department.

He added that at this time people must be more careful to avoid compromising drainage as it could create problems in the public sewer system in Los Angeles county.

Although, so far, not many setbacks have been reported in this area; they have seen other cities and agencies experience that problem.

This worries the authorities because the problem could eventually reach the sewers that are governed by the Department of Public Works.

"We have around 4,600 miles of sewer and 30 pump stations that are working closely with our regional partners," said Vizcarra.

The representative indicated that while many were seen buying huge quantities of toilet paper, when the pandemic was announced; others started using alternatives.

"I think a lot of people, as a precaution, bought disinfecting wipes. And they were throwing those wipes along with the paper towels and similar products in the toilets, "he explained. "Toilet paper is designed to be disposed of, other materials are not."

Vizcarra said that most of these non-waste materials end up clogging the drains that go to the wastewater treatment facilities. Many of these spills reach lakes and rivers and cannot reach the ocean causing another wide range of public health impacts on the environment.

"So even [some] wipes labeled as disposable interfere with wastewater and collection," the spokesperson said.

For this reason, several agencies have created campaigns to inform residents, urging them not to discard those wipes down the toilet, but to throw them in the trash.

Among them is the campaign that promotes only flushing the three Ps, "Pee, poop and paper."

"We are posting on Twitter and sharing information with our partner agencies and we have different advocacy groups that are trying to spread that message," said Vizcarra.

"It is not just about the obstructions in the sewer system, it is that every time we receive these materials the plant pumps break down," he added.


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