EPA regulation requires use of amalgam separators by 2019

In a recent press release the Environmental Protection Agency revealed their final ruling on the disposal of amalgam in the dental office.

Due to the potentially harmful effects of releasing mercury-containing amalgam into the environment through traditional disposal methods, the EPA has ruled that all dental amalgam must be disposed of with an amalgam separator. The ruling will be effective at the start of this year (30 days after its publication in the Federal Register), but the date for compliance for more dental practices won’t be until the end of 2019.

Dental amalgam is the leading source of mercury found in municipal treatment plants. And while the amount of mercury used in amalgam may be small it can react to certain bacteria in the environment and become methylmercury, an even more toxic form of mercury found in fish and shellfish that poses an even greater health risk when exposed to it.

Because of the risk factor in allowing the continuation of mercury discharge into the environment the EPA has put these new rules in place that can be found in this First Impressions Weekly Drill press release.

Highlights of the new rules include:

  • Best-management practices including collecting and recycling scrap amalgam and cleaning chairside traps with nonbleach or nonchlorine cleaners (to avoid releasing mercury)
  • Updating current separators in offices if they don’t meet the new standards
  • Submitting a compliance report and have maintenance and inspection records available

There are some exceptions to this new ruling. The most notable are dentists who practice in oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, or prosthodontics, dentists who don’t place amalgam or only remove in emergency cases, and mobile dental clinics.

If this new ruling applies to your office now is the time to start looking into amalgam separators that meet the new standards. If you have questions of would like to learn more about options available give us a call! 1-800-353-9595