Water Protection Association

THE ISSUE: An Overlooked & Underlying Source of

- By:

Courtesy of Water Protection Association

According to and as of the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 105 million 'occupied' households in the United States. Each household is disposing of Fats, Oils and Greases (FOG) and other Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW), as the EPA refers to them, at the approximate rate of One (1) gallon per month through various methods; some legal and some not. The currently mandated methods and policies significantly contribute to the repetitive NPSP contamination of our water resources and overall eco-systems.

The Water Protection Association refers to it as the 'Residential Pollution Factor' or (RPF) because households discard approximately 105 million gallons of FOG into landfills and /or outside of policy each month. This equates to approximately 1.26 billion gallons of FOG per year and every year before and thereafter. Therefore, the statistics prove RPF to be a major contributing factor because recurring pollution is a 'Symptom' that something is not right and every City in every State has this problem.

Most of this type of NPSP goes unnoticed because most Americans residents today consider the waste oil disposal methods 'normal and inconsequential'. However we couldn't be more wrong when we stop to consider that all 105 million households are doing the same thing. Municipalities, Government Agencies, Environmental Groups need to acknowledge RPF as major player in the 'Cause' of our NPSP water contamination symptoms and should focus on correcting the cause, rather than merely cleaning up the symptoms.

Most Americans assume they can dump anything they want into landfills without causing any harm. To illustrate this and the diverse methods people use, the WPA posed a random survey where citizens were asked, 'How do you dispose of your waste fats, cooking oils, or greases?'

The responses were as follows:

· Pour it down the drain
· Pour the fats on my pet's dry food
· Pour it into the sewer drains
· Pour it directly into the outdoor trash bin
· Use solvents and degreasers to dilute the oil then dump it down drains
· Sop it up with 'Cat Litter' (clay) or paper towels and toss it into the trash can
· Dump it in the back yard to kill weeds
· Freeze it in a coffee can and put it into the trash
· Put it in a plastic container and put it into the trash

These FOG disposal routines reveal how diversified and harmful they can be, especially when we come to realize 105 million households are involved. And regardless of 'how' individuals get rid of it, (legally or not) a major portion of it continually gets into the environment either unchecked or uncontained. It is unfortunate that most citizens don't even realize we are polluting our own water resources and that we are the 'Cause' of a very large portion of the pollution symptoms.

As it appears today, the magnitude of how current policy for FOG disposal harms our water systems seems to be overlooked. Almost all State & City Municipalities mandate the FOG disposal method basically like this: 'Pour motor oil, fats & grease into a sealable plastic container and take it to a “Recycling Center”, and for rancid cooking oils, fats and grease; store it in a sealable plastic container until trash day, then put it in the trashcan for transport to the landfill.' The preventative results from this mandate is small and the NPSP symptoms steadily continue.

Until the FOG disposal policy changes from 'sealable plastic containers' to 'solidification and encapsulation” (S&E), we will continue to waste tax dollars on cleaning up the “symptoms” instead of obtaining successful reductions of any type of water system pollution. 'S&E” is the only method of disposal that will prevent FOG and other oil based HHW entering our water systems from every source. The main source being Landfills because most Citizens think water contamination or pollution only refers to illegal dumping motor oils, anti-freeze, and other toxic waste products down drains and sewers.

It has been reported that the life of a landfill is 10 to 15 years. Consider how long RPF has been going on at rate of a billion gallons of discarded FOG per year! Landfills are very much needed for our solid wastes, but evidence from a report titled 'The Basics of Landfills: How They are Constructed and Why They Fail' by the Environmental Research Foundation in Annapolis, Maryland, shows they are not effective in truly containing liquids, even though new landfill design specifications call for installation of sophisticated drains, sumps and purge systems to control and curtail NPSP.

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