Toilet Paper Shortage Leading Some to Flush ‘Inappropriate Items'

New Hampshire environmental officials said rags, wipes, paper towels, T-shirts and sheets flushed as a result of the coronavirus related toilet paper shortage can cause damage to sewers and septic systems

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The rush to hoard toilet paper is having some unforeseen consequences that could impact the environment, environmental officials in New Hampshire warned Tuesday.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued a reminder to residents to only flush human waste and toilet paper.

The chaos surrounding the coronavirus has rolled into grocery stores across the country, with customers hoarding more than just toilet paper. Shelves are largely bare as people frantically fill their fridges and freezers. Experts warn it's completely unnecessary.

They said the toilet paper shortage caused by the coronavirus outbreak is causing more people to flush "inappropriate items" down the toilet. This has municipal wastewater treatment plants concerned about a possible increase in clogs in the system.

NHDES said rags, wipes, paper towels, T-shirts and sheets can cause damage to municipal wastewater or home septic systems, leading to costly repairs. Even items like wipes claiming to be flushable don't break down easily and can clog sewer and septic systems.

This photo from 2016 shows New Hampshire Department of Environmental Protection worker Tim Pelletier removing a sewer snake made of wipes, rages, sanitary products and paper towels from the sewer system that serves the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

"The bottom line is that the only safe items to flush are human waste and toilet paper," NHDES said. "If you are forced to use something other than toilet paper, please place it in a bag and dispose of it in your trash."

For more information on what's flushable -- and what isn't -- click here.

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