Residential Pollution Prevention

Many of the items that are often flushed down the toilet - even products labeled "flushable" or "biodegradable" - can cause major problems not only in your home or businesses plumbing, but also for your community's sewer system.

 The only things that can be flushed down the toilet are:
  1. Human body waste
  2. Toilet paper
  3. Used water

"Flushable" or "Disposable" Wipes

Wipes may be labeled as “flushable” or “disposable”, but they actually cause major problems after being flushed down the toilet. Wipes and other similarly labeled “flushable/disposable” products are not biodegradable, so they can cause clogs and overflows in the sewer system. They should instead be disposed of in the trash can. Toilet paper is the only paper product that can be flushed down the toilet and not cause any potential problems.

Watch the video below created by students from Deer Valley High School in Antioch, CA and read about it here in the East Bay Times.

Hazardous Chemicals

Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove many types of hazardous chemicals, and these chemicals may pass through untreated into our receiving water. Microorganisms involved in the treatment process can also be poisoned and rendered ineffective.
Common household hazardous chemicals that should not be flushed or washed down a drain include:

  • Adhesives/glues
  • Air fresheners
  • Antifreeze 
  • Bug sprays
  • Fuel/lighter fluid 
  • Household cleaners
  • Motor oil
  • Paints
  • Pesticides
  • Polishes

Properly dispose of hazardous chemicals at a Household Hazardous Waste facility. City and East County residents can find more information here.


Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceutical drugs and can end up contaminating the environment. Unused drugs should be taken to an approved pharmaceutical take back site. Find an approved one near you here. City residents can go to the following locations in Brentwood:

Drug Take Back Sites (Brentwood)
 CVS/Pharmacy #4283 3171 Balfour Rd.   
Brentwood, CA 94513 
(925) 626-3963 
CVS/Pharmacy #09511 1175 2nd St.
Brentwood, CA 94513
(925) 634-8045 


It is illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste (hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications) directly in the trash or recycling containers. All sharps waste must be placed in a sharps disposal container and be disposed of properly. Options include:

  • Collection sites (e.g. doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, etc.)

  • Household hazardous waste collection sites (City and East County residents can find more information here)

  • Mail-back programs

Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are found in many things such as meat, food scraps, dairy products, and cooking oil. FOG can solidify in the sewer system and cause major blockages. This can lead to sewer overflows or spills, which can affect our environment and health. The City has a FOG Program to control FOG from commercial restaurants, but it is up to residents to prevent FOG from going down their home’s plumbing system.   

Residents can help by following proper FOG handling and disposal methods:

  • Never pour FOG down the sink, garbage disposal, or toilets.
  • Pour excess FOG from cookware into a lidded container. Allow the grease to harden first before disposing in the trash.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe remaining grease from a pan before washing.
  • Do not use chemicals or additives that claim to dissolve grease. It may allow grease to flow down the drain, but the grease will eventually solidify in the sewer system.

Other common items that should not be flushed down the toilet or sinks:

  • Feminine products (tampons, pads, etc.)
  • Paper products other than toilet paper (tissues, napkins, paper towels, etc.)
  • Dental floss
  • Condoms
  • Cotton swabs and cotton balls
  • Bandages
  • Cat litter
  • Cigarette butts