Once a proponent of flushable wipes, Dr. Oz has a change of heart after touring a wastewater treatment plant.


Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the Dr. Oz Show, has been a big proponent of “flushable” wipes. He’s touted their health benefits, and he himself is a self-proclaimed wipes user.

But after reading an article about what wipes are doing to wastewater treatment plants and sewer systems, the health expert decided to investigate the topic. So on the Tuesday, Sept. 9 episode of his show, Dr. Oz suited up and took his audience on a tour of the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant in New York with Jim Pynn, plant superintendent, to see first-hand the damage wipes are causing to municipal systems. After climbing into a dumpster full of dried wipes that had been separated from the waste stream, Dr. Oz had a change of heart.

“After seeing all of these wipes, I’m officially switching back to toilet paper,” Dr. Oz said.

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But the episode didn’t end there. Back at the studio, Dr. Oz pulled an audience member onto the stage. The two of them used stand mixers, wipes and some water to simulate what happens when wipes are flushed. As you can probably guess, the wipes remained completely intact throughout the demonstration. He also showed the audience wipes that had been submerged in water for 48 hours. Those, too, showed no sign of breaking down.

Finally, he spoke with Cynthia Finley, director of regulatory affairs for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. She explained the labeling dilemma, stating that the wipes industry and wastewater industry are working to create a better definition of “flushable.” She commented that stricter guidelines are necessary. Her advice? If it’s not pee, poo or toilet paper, don’t flush it.

In response to the episode, Kimberly-Clark released a statement, which is posted on the Dr. Oz website:

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“Our commitment is that if our wipes say they are flushable, then we stand behind that. As responsible stewards of clean water and the environment, we are committed to helping people understand what’s safe to flush and what’s not. We’ll continue working closely with industry groups, local governments and local utilities to make sure the most accurate information is available.”

The episode was a pretty thorough discussion on the flushable epidemic, and it’s just one more step in educating the public about a very serious and costly problem.

As for Dr. Oz, he’s not giving up entirely on his bathroom routine. His new recommendation is to use a spritzer bottle to moisten toilet paper, which should break down just fine in the sewer system.

Related: From the Editor: All on the Same Page

To watch the wipes segment, follow these links to the Dr. Oz website:

Flushable Wipes, Part 1
Flushable Wipes, Part 2


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