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What not to flush: Wipes, paper towels among items clogging sewers

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Wastewater officials across the country have been trying to spread the message that not just anything can go down the toilet, and they have recently taken aim at wipes.

A public awareness campaign by the Orange County Sanitation District in California called "What 2 Flush" emphasizes that the toilet is meant only for the three Ps — pee, poop and toilet paper. It even says facial tissues are too sturdy to be flushed. Among the more unusual items it says people commonly flush that risk causing clogs: cat litter, condoms and dental floss.

A study by the Portland Water District in Maine in 2011 analyzed what was causing clogs in their sewer pipes and came up with this analysis:

— 42 per cent paper products, including paper towels

— 24 per cent baby wipes

— 17 per cent hygiene products, including feminine pads and tampons

— 8 per cent "flushable" wipes

— Remainder, other items, including household wipes, cosmetic pads and medical materials.

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