February 12, 2016 14:10 ET

Valentine's Biohazard: Embrace the Love but Don't Flush the Glove This V-Day

International Wastewater Forum Wages Campaign Against 'Condom Tsunami'

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 12, 2016) - Love is in the air as we countdown to Valentine's Day this Sunday. One thing couples likely won't consider (if a perfect date moves into a perfect night) is where to properly dispose of used condoms. Sadly, thousands of them will end up flushed down the toilet and flowing through local wastewater systems across North America. This could cause infrastructure damage, but will certainly create extra (and unpleasant) removal work for wastewater maintenance crews.

"We're showing our love for wastewater system operators across North America this year by bringing this unfortunate issue to light and waging a war against the condom tsunami," said Hubert Colas, President Americas, of FluksAqua. "This is a completely avoidable problem with just a little bit of common sense for condom disposal."

How big an issue is careless condom flushing? According to Nick Hansen, a recently profiled professional on FluksAqua's Water Industry Blog and Senior Plant Operator of San Francisco's Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, it's an alarming annual assault.

"Thousands (of condoms) come through the plant daily, says Hansen. On Valentine's Day, that number rises significantly. That's just the plant I work at, this happens everywhere."

Careless Condom Disposers take note: condoms don't break down in the wastewater system. When you flush a condom down the drain, someone else needs to remove it safely from the water system.

As Hansen wrote in a recent blog post, "Every February 14th, a sea of various sized white, red, yellow, black and 'ribbed for her pleasure' condoms appear floating in the sewage at wastewater treatment plants. Sometimes they have been tied like balloons while others are grouped together like a swimming school of fish. But it's all the same. Trash such as condoms should never be flushed, instead put it in the garbage."

What is the cost of careless condom disposal? Hansen cites the Milwaukee Metro Sewarage District who he says paid a labourer $52.15 an hour to manually skim condoms out of treatment tanks. He adds that condoms could even make their way through the treatment process and end up in a river or ocean to be consumed by fish or seagulls thinking they could be food.

This Valentine's Day, embrace the love but don't flush the glove.

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