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4,500 wet wipes have been found in one patch of Thames foreshore

Written by
James Beeson
Litterbug Londoners are polluting the Thames with thousands of wet wipes, according to a new study – with a whopping 277 wipes found in just one square metre of the riverbed.
The findings, released by Thames21 as part of a Thames River Watch citizen science event called The Big Count, revealed over 4,500 wet wipes were found in one 154m squared patch of foreshore. The density of wet wipes also increased further away from the shore, suggesting that these figures could be the tip of a very dirty iceberg.
Unlike plastic bottles, which float, wet wipes are heavy and sink to the bottom of the river. It is thought that Londoners are guilty of flushing the wipes down their toilets, unaware that the products are not biodegradable. When the city’s Victorian sewerage system overflows (on average once a week), huge numbers of wipes make their way into the Thames, endangering its wildlife. A recent study found that more than seven in ten Thames flounder (it’s a fish) had plastic in their stomachs.
Thames21 Chief Executive Debbie Leach said: ‘These figures reveal the shocking extent to which wet wipes are wrecking the Thames riverbed. It’s crucial that people bin their wet wipes, not flush them.’ In other dirty findings, tube passengers are exposed to ‘eight times more pollution than motorists’. And here’s an app that shows you the least polluted routes through London.

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