Don't Flush! -- by Mr. Apol (8/04/03)

The Easton, PA Water & Sewage Company discovered a 12-week-old fetus clogging a water main when they responded to a routine call in June 1995. Workers on the scene said it was well-formed and obviously a human. When it was seen moving on its own accord, workers called the authorities.

A team of Allentown doctors released the news in January of 1996. The fetus was pronounced alive. The medical team proposed that the fetus had been nourishing on the elements of waste products flowing through the pipe. Its umbilical cord had attached itself onto a bundle of roots that had grown into the pipe, causing the reported water leakage. The cord, doctors say, was saturated by nutrients as the community flushed their toilets, absorbing the elements through its permeable membrane.

How did the fetus get there? A panel of research scientists in Scranton say that situations like this should arise more often than many people would expect. Dr. Harold Merks has estimated that there are hundreds of unfertilized ova flushed down the sewage system at peak times. When women in a community menstruate, these ova enter the sewage system. Dr. Merks goes on to theorize that it is also likely for sperm to enter the sewage as a result of men masturbating in the shower or flushing their spendings down the toilet or washing it off of their hands at the sink.

"The sperm easily survives such a predicament, and will be able to fertilize ova throughout the water works," says Merks. Of course Merks also suggests that the chances of the embryo lodging as well as the one did in the pipe in Easton is as good as 20%. The fetuses will thrive until their growth within the pipe smashes itself. Merks also estimates that a large proportion of these fetuses would not survive for that length of time due to corrosives poured down drains.

Dr. Merks theorizes that about 80% of these embryos will end up at the local sewage purification plant where they would be destroyed by the water-treating agents such as chlorine. The fetus found by the workers died within an incubation tank after it reached 8 months of development.

Back to the
News Monitor