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EPA Rules on Amalgam Separators

2019-06-27T16:20:22-04:00

June 2019

DYK – Most dental offices will need an amalgam separator by June 2020 as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dental Effluent Guidelines

What you need to know:

  • The vast majority of dental facilities that discharge waste water into publicly owned treatment works will need to have an amalgam separator by June 14, 2020.
  • Best management practices:

1. Prohibit the discharge of waste (or scrap) into the water ways. Flushing waste amalgam from chair-side traps, screens, vacuum pump filters, dental tools, or collection devices into drains is prohibited;

2. Prohibit the use of line cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of solid mercury when cleaning chair-side traps and vacuum lines. Those cleaners include but are not limited to bleach chlorine, iodine and peroxide that have a pH lower than 6 or greater than 8.

  • Some dental specialty offices are not subject to the rule, examples include: oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics.
  • The rule states that dentists that do not place or remove amalgam except in “limited circumstances” as a frequency of less than five percent of their procedures, would be exempt from further requirements of the rule. In that instance, the dentist would only need to file a one-time compliance report. According to data the EPA obtained, if a practice removes 9 cases or less of amalgam per year, the practice may not need to purchase an amalgam separator. With respect to the 9 cases, the EPA means the removal of amalgam from one tooth at each of those cases, not multiple teeth.
  • Dental facilities that do not discharge their amalgam process wastewater in publicly owned treatment works are not subject to this rule’s requirements.
  • Mobile dental units are exempt.
  • Dentists who already have separators are grandfathered for 10 years.
  • Dental offices must submit a one-time compliance report by October 12, 2020.
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