Are Traditional Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

9th July 2019 | chemical safety, hazardous chemical, safer alternatives, waste water

Chemical drain cleaners are considered popular, quick-fix, go-to solutions when it comes to drain problems. These chemicals can come in liquid, gel or powder form and are strong substances. What most people don’t know is that they can do more harm than good.

There are 3 common types of drain cleaners used: caustic drain cleaners, oxidizing drain cleaners, and acid drain cleaners. These contain aggressive and toxic chemicals such as lye, bleach, sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid that are formulated to dissolve blockages such as hair and food.

Harmful Effects of Traditional Drain Cleaners

  • On humans – Commercial drain cleaners contain highly toxic chemicals that make it unhealthy for humans. They must be used with personal protective equipment such as masks, goggles, and gloves to prevent inhalation and accidental spillage or dousing on clothes and skin which can result in injuries.
  • On the environment – Likewise, these cleaning agents put the environment at risk and are extremely harmful to plants and wildlife. Whilst the chemicals may go through a treatment process, they may eventually seep into surrounding soils and groundwater, leading to contamination. In addition, unused chemical drain cleaners must be treated as hazardous waste since any residue left in the bottles could make its way into landfills and enter waterways.
  • On assets – Most of these products work by generating heat and ‘eating away’ at the organic materials that are causing clogs or foul odours. Due to their very corrosive nature, the chemicals in drain cleaners also harm metal and plastic piping, as well as joint seals and caulking material. Over time, the chemicals could burn holes in your plumbing lines, cause leaks, and require expensive repairs.

Choosing Safe and Effective Drain Cleaners

It’s important to carefully examine the products that we use to eliminate foul odours or unclog our drains.

Mo-Flo and Blue Thunder are both popular and effective options for drain cleaning. However, they fall under the category of those toxic and hazardous cleaners mentioned above. They can adversely affect your health, harm the environment, and damage your pipes and plumbing system.

Using safer chemicals such as Triple7 EnviroClear makes better sense when you compare their features:

Know What to Look For

Traditional chemical agents used to clean and deodorise septic systems are effective, but one look at their SDS and you’ll discover that they aren’t necessarily the best options available.

When choosing any chemical product, there are various factors to consider aside from their usefulness. You must check if they are:

  • Hazardous – Find out if the product poses any health or physical hazards or dangers. Such warnings as ‘toxic’ or ‘irritants’ indicate that they must be used with PPE in order to ensure safety. Also watch out for words such as ‘flammable’, ‘explosive’, or ‘oxidiser’.
  • Corrosive – Corrosive products contain strong acids that can potentially damage your plumbing system.
  • Readily Biodegradable – Seeing the word ‘biodegradable’ on a label can give people a false sense of security that their product of choice is good for the environment. Instead, determine if it is Readily Biodegradable to AS 4351 standards, which means that the organic surfactants in the product are proven to degrade by 70 percent or more within 28 days.

Check the SDS

The Safety Data Sheet or SDS is the best place to check for a product’s hazard information. It also tells you how to safely store, use, and dispose of the product; and safety measures you must take, among others.

For more information on Triple7 EnviroClear, check the SDS: Triple7 EnviroClear SDS

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