Fatbergs offer a glimpse into our modern-day society—albeit the darker side of modern life. These oily monsters are growing right beneath our feet and clogging sewers around the world. Below are five fatberg facts that you may not want to know, but you need to.
‘Fatberg’ is in the dictionary.
The term ‘fatberg’ was coined by the sewer works of Thames Water. The description conjurs up a pale floating mass of epic proportions—an iceberg of fat. The term ‘fatberg’ caught on well enough to make it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. (National Geographic)
The Whitechapel Fatberg was autopsied in 2018.
Scientists on the TV program Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers, analyzed five metric tons of the monstrous lump, to see what was clogging the water system.
They found that it is made up of the usual suspects of any fatberg—everything from cooking oil to wipes and diapers. Cooking oil comprises 90% of the mass. Their analysis also showed that street drugs are present but at much lower concentrations than prohibited gym supplements. Most worryingly, the autopsy found that the supersized fatberg contains bacteria, including listeria and E. coli, some of which can be potentially deadly and resistant to antibiotics. (QZ)
‘Gutter Oil’ is real.
In China, fat from sewers and traps is illicitly scooped, cleaned up—though not well—and sold on the black market as “gutter oil.” In cheap restaurants and street stalls, your dinner might even be cooked in gutter oil. (National Geographic)
Fatbergs are expensive.
New York City recently started a fatberg campaign and said that the city spends approximately $18.8 million a year to degrease the sewers, deal with damage caused by sewer backups, and repair plant equipment and transport those items to landfill. As these costs increase, it will also increase water and sewer rates. (NYC)
- London spends $19 to $63 million (£15 and £50 million) annually removing fatbergs from city sewers.
- Detroit recently cleared a single 100-foot long fatberg found in an 11-foot diameter pipe at a cost of $100,000.
It’s no secret that fatbergs are an expensive and persistent problem for water and sanitation companies.
Fatbergs damage the environment.
While it is relatively easy to calculate the cost of domestic fatberg removal, it is not as easy to calculate the cost of the environmental damage that occurs when sewers overflow. Fatbergs clog sewers and restrict the flow of waste, when a sewer line is too restricted, that raw sewage can flow into homes, streets, neighborhoods, rivers, lakes and oceans through manholes and street drains. The EPA estimates that 65 percent of all sewer spills are caused by fats, oils and grease.
Once this raw sewage finds its way out of the sewer, it doesn’t take long for it to run into our clean water supply. The environmental and health implications are disastrous.
Don’t Feed the Fatberg!
The FOG Safe Drain Guard is designed to be placed into the top of your kitchen drain or on your countertop. You can quickly and easily pour the used cooking fat, oil or grease (FOG) into it, and then promptly dispose of the entire drain guard, instead of rinsing these harmful contaminants down the kitchen sink. Our FOG Safe Drain Guard is made with recyclable materials to absorb the fats, oils and grease and can be thrown out with your regular garbage. See a FOG Safe Drain Guard in action over on our FOG Safe YouTube channel.
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