Nearly half of above-ground water sources are contaminated by what we put down the drain, according to the EPA. Here are five things that should never go there.
Grease: Used cooking oil and fat backs up in drains and in your neighborhood, too. When grease hardens, it can clog sewage pipes and force raw sewage back into your home or homes of others on your street. I keep a container under my sink to collect cooking grease. When it’s full, I take it to a full-service recycling center. That’s a little more work for me but a lot more pleasant than the alternative.
Used motor oil: Just one gallon of it could contaminate roughly 1 million gallons of water, according to EPA. Whatever you do, don’t pour it down a storm drain. Those connect to local waterways. Drop off dirty motor oil at a full-service recycling center. Be sure to support businesses that recycle used oil if you don’t do oil changes yourself.
Fertilizers and pesticides: These are a major source of contamination. Nutrient overload causes algae to bloom and removes oxygen from water. Lack of oxygen can choke aquatic creatures that help improve water quality. Use only the prescribed amount of landscape chemicals and avoid them when you can.
Medication: If you have meds you no longer take or that have expired, don’t flush them unless the label says to do so. Many pharmacies partner with companies that will accept them for disposal. Go to DoYourPart.com/Columns for more information.
Pet waste: Clean up after your pet. The waste is considered raw sewage because it can contain parasites and microorganisms harmful to humans. When it rains, these parasites and bacteria can be washed into nearby storm drains.