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Thread: Septic systems and formaldehyde

  1. #1
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Septic systems and formaldehyde

    This information is from my brother who teaches about wastewater treatment at a university and planned, built, and runs a treatment plant for a city. So I trust his information. The link below pertains to RVers and such, but the information would be similar for those of us on home septics. More than you wanted to know, but a relief after reading.

    The following link is the worst case scenario. I think most formaldehyde based products are off the market because nobody wants them. The problem here is the concentration.

    http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/gro...wastewater.pdf

    As I'm sure you have heard "the solution to pollution is dilution." In the case of the small amount of formaldehyde that will result from washing fabric I doubt there is any concern. Formaldehyde is an organic molecule that is food for some types of bacteria. The bacteria will break it down as long as the concentration isn't high enough to be toxic.

    You could air out the fabric on a clothes line before washing it. That should lower the formaldehyde concentration prior to washing. Just smelling the fabric will give you a good idea of how much formaldehyde is present. I never realized what the smell was, but now have made the connection.

    Long story short, not to worry. The septic will be fine with the little bit of formaldehyde you add from washing a few yards of cloth.
    Last edited by coopah; 06-11-2012 at 03:23 PM. Reason: added introduction
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  2. #2
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    I have a septic system and also an RV - Thank you for the information. Very interesting and informative.
    Aronel aka Lee

  3. #3
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    Airing the fabric outside first before washing sounds like a good idea. We aren't suposed to have a clothes line, but I could put the fabric over a chair out on the deck.
    http://www.oregonquilting.net
    I choose to give my life away for things that last forever

  4. #4
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    It surprised me that airing the fabric would decrease the formaldehyde! Easy way to lighten any septic worries. Never thought I'd be asking my brother for quilting related advice!! LOL
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  5. #5
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coopah View Post
    Long story short, not to worry. The septic will be fine with the little bit of formaldehyde you add from washing a few yards of cloth.
    Have to smile because I wash a lot more than a few yards of cloth.

    Thanks for the info - very informative.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Sandra-P's Avatar
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    Thank you for the info. Good to know.
    Sandra

  7. #7
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    CMW, the reference was my brother's response to me...but what does he know about how much fabric I use? LOL
    I think there are a lot of quilter's out there that wash quite a few yards!
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

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