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Green Column by Sharad Agarwal
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Sink Traps And Their Importance For The Environment

Most of us have never given a second thought to our drainage system, but the fact is that what lies beneath the sink plays an important role in protecting the environment. All plumbing fixtures that are directly connected to the drainage are supposed to be fitted with sink traps or water seal traps. Not only are these traps essential for the environment, but they also play an important role in protecting the drainage system. 

Sink traps have the vital task of sealing the drainage and preventing it from throwing back gases from the sewage. Most of these gases can be poisonous and certainly don’t smell good. The traps also stop bugs and vermin from making their way from the sewage into your place. Nobody wants their workplace to smell like sewer and have a bug problem.

In industries or laboratories that deal with chemical wastes, sink traps are a necessity to make sure that these harmful chemicals do not make their way into the environment untreated. There are plumbing regulations in place to ensure this.

Laboratories and Chemical Waste
Certain industries and laboratories deal with corrosive and harmful chemicals all the time. These chemicals can wreck the plumbing within the building if drained untreated, and even do some real damage to the sewerage system. There are specific plumbing rules that require laboratories dealing with chemical waste to treat these chemicals before draining them. Sink traps are an effective way of doing that. 

It is worth noting here that all sewage systems ultimately lead to the ocean and are bound to effect the environment. So by ensuring that such chemicals don’t reach the sewage system, sink traps are actually protecting the environment. 

In fact, sink traps are one of the preliminary forms of defence used in laboratories to prevent toxic chemicals from wreaking havoc. Labs mainly use glass or stainless steel traps for this purpose. These traps are fixed right underneath the sink, and may take up substantial space. Furthermore, each sink requires its own sink trap.

An alternative to sink traps are the external dilution basins. These basins do not need to be fitted under the sinks so don’t take up much space. Additionally, all sink within a lab could be feeding into one dilution basin. The way it works is that chemical waste enters these basins where it is mixed with regular waste to dilute its strength. This decreases the potency of the harmful chemicals before it is drained into the sewage. Sometimes the dilution basin may contain a neutralizing compound like limestone chips. Neutralization is probably more effective than dilution, but both methods are good enough to meet regulatory requirements.

The Commercial Food Industry
Restaurants and commercial kitchens churn out a lot more food on a daily basis than your regular household kitchen. Fats, oils and grease are certainly going to find their way down a sink time and time again. And from the sink, this grease makes its way to the sewer than to the rivers and oceans. This is not good for either the drains or the environment. Too much fat deposits in the sewer can lead to a whole host of problems including rat infestations and sewerage water overflow.  

When food waste makes its way down a pipe it is likely to cause blockages. Unsaturated fats, especially, have a tendency to solidify at room temperatures, so it can clog up pipes quite easily. Not only is this problematic for the people working in the kitchens, but it may lead to larger scale problems like sewer overflow. The sewerage water could overflow into another body of water polluting it, and before you know it, the water supply of the whole area could be affected. 

To prevent all of this, from the huge potential cost of repairs to the damage to the environment, commercial kitchens use grease traps. Grease traps are fitted into drain pipes under the sink for the single task of separating grease, oil and fats from waste water.  As water flows from the sink through the grease trap, fats are captured by the trap, while the water continues onto the sewerage line. The grease trap does require cleaning at regular intervals, but it’s worth the trouble.



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