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EPA encourages all Americans to only flush toilet paper

While the Environmental Protection Agency encourages disinfecting your home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should never flush disinfecting wipes.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging Americans to only flush toilet paper, not disinfecting wipes or other nonflushable items that should be disposed of in the trash.

Flushing only toilet paper ensures the toilets, plumbing, sewer systems and septic systems will continue working properly to safely manage our nation's wastewater, the EPA said in a release Monday. While the agency encourages using approved disinfecting wipes to clean your home and reduce the spread of COVID-19, those wipes should never be flushed.

The EPA says preventable backups to sewer systems can pose a threat to human health and challenge water utilities and their workforce. 

"Flushing anything other than toilet paper, including disinfecting wipes, can damage internal plumbing, local sewer systems and septic systems," the EPA said. "Fixing these backups is costly and takes time and resources away from ensuring that wastewater management systems are otherwise working properly."

The list of items you should not be flushing also includes wet wipes marketed as "flushable," according to the EPA's blog site

"There are myriad cleaning supplies, hygiene products and flushable wipes that are detrimental to both septic and sewer systems," the blog says. "But, we can’t ignore it. We need to take action to prevent 'the nasties' from entering our homes and yards, and from affecting the environment. It’s a health risk."

The EPA says having fully operational wastewater services is critical to containing COVID-19 and protecting people from other public health risks.

For information on EPA-approved disinfecting products, drinking water and wastewater, and more resources relating to the fight against COVID-19, you can read the EPA's coronavirus page here.

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