Chemotherapy and Your Septic System

Chemotherapy and your Septic System

When a person is going through chemotherapy treatment for a serious illness, the last thing they may care about is how the treatment might affect the septic tank. Even if you've always been conscientious about not flushing things that can clog up the tank or harm the friendly bacteria, you probably don't have much choice about how your illness treatment affects the system.

Chemotherapy & Tank Bacteria

As the body expels non-metabolized chemotherapy medication through normal elimination processes, the substances go down the sewer pipe. On rural property, that typically means everything moves to a septic tank. Chemotherapy drugs can kill the friendly bacteria in the tank. This can lead to sewage backups and even system failure.

If you receive chemotherapy on a temporary basis for cancer treatment, plan to have the tank pumped soon after your scheduled treatment end date.

If you need ongoing chemotherapy for an autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, the amount of the medication you receive is substantially lower than the amount used to eradicate cancer cells. Nevertheless, it may be a good preventive measure to have the tank checked after the first several months.

In both situations, you might add packets of powdered friendly bacteria or liquid bacteria to the system by flushing the substances down a toilet according to instructions. This helps keep the friendly bacteria population at a suitable level. You can obtain these products from a septic tank technician or buy them at a hardware store.

Additional Steps You Can Take

Use Suitable Toilet Paper

It's an indelicate subject, but people who are sick from their treatment can go through a lot of toilet paper. Avoid using the thick, layered products that don't break down very well and build up on top of the solids and liquid in the tank.

You can determine whether the paper you typically use is OK for the tank by immersing it in a container of water for several hours. If it's still intact, this type of paper will accumulate in the tank.

Be Diligent About What Goes in the Tank

In addition, encourage everyone in your household to be diligent about septic tank care. That means not flushing anything down the toilet or down drains that should not go into the tank.

This includes items that do not dissolve in the tank, such as dental floss, hair and tampons. It also includes substances that kill friendly bacteria. Avoid using antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial products in your home, and avoid using bleach with the laundry. Some hair lightening products contain harsh chemicals that shouldn't be washed down the drain.

Concluding Thoughts

You may not feel motivated to focus on septic tank care at this time. Nevertheless, doing so will prevent unpleasant occurrences that you certainly don't want to deal with now.