Students—especially middle-school students—are often fascinated by gross stuff. It’s an ideal age to teach about wastewater (sewage) treatment—what happens to the stuff that does go down our toilets and drains.
An emerging problem with wastewater treatment is that people are throwing things down the drain and toilet that they shouldn’t.
So-called “flushable” wipes, paper towels, tissues, tampons and sanitary pads, and other dense paper materials should NOT be thrown in the toilet. On top of that, when people pour grease or other congealing products down the kitchen sink, these attach to the paper products, causing “fatbergs” to form.
The result can be clogged pipes, sewage back-ups into homes, and potentially expensive repairs.
Engage your students in what not to throw down the toilet or drain. Here’s a quick list:
- Tissues & paper towels
- Dental floss and cotton swabs
- Tampons & sanitary pads
- Clumping cat litter
- Oil-based hand scrubs
- Oil or grease
Bottom line: If it isn’t toilet paper or doesn’t come out of your body, throw it in the trash.
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