Be safe about coronavirus — but after disinfecting in your home, don’t flush rubber gloves, disinfecting wipes, or any other items you’ve used down the toilet.

Reporting on the matter is Bob Mayo, from WTAE News. The request originated from Penn Hills emergency management coordinator Chuck Miller. He was concerned enough about the potential harm to pumping stations and the wastewater treatment plant to contact Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 and ask us to help get the word out.

The advice applies to any community. 

“Yes, people have been doing it. Please stop,” Miller said. “Help us help you.”

Miller got a concerned call from from a supervisor at Penn Hills’ Water Pollution Control Department Monday morning.

“They’ve noticed an increase in items being flushed down the toilets that shouldn’t be there — i.e. rubber gloves, sanitation wipes, Clorox wipes, things like that,” Miller said.

It could cause expensive damage and troubles at Penn Hills pumping stations and treatment facilities — but you could also face trouble closer to home.

“If it would get stuck in their own home in their own pipes, they would have backed up sewage in their own house, which is a costly repair,” Miller said.

Penn Hills processes about 75% of its wastewater. The other 25% is processed by the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, ALCOSAN.

ALCOSAN is not seeing trouble yet — but agrees with the advice about not flushing those items.

“You’re not really sure what they’re doing. They can clog up your pipes at home. They can clog up your pipes in the neighborhood, and they can cause us trouble if we have a big, big, big overload of it,” ALCOSAN spokesman Joey Vallarian told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

Miller says clogging the sewer system could also cause sewage system backups in your neighborhood, further stressing and exposing those who have to respond to the problem.

“Fire departments to deal with the flooding, you’re going to have water pollution control people come out and deal with the clogged pipes, and have to possibly dig up streets and things like that. And that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Miller said.

Vallarian says you should only flush three things down your toilet. You know two of them. The third is toilet paper.

“Those are the only things to put down the toilet,” Vallarian said.

That doesn’t include those thick disinfectant wipes.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Those things do not break down.”

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