Does your practice have an amalgam separator? If so, you might already be an industry trailblazer, but the EPA amalgam separator mandate believes it should be required for all dental offices across the United States, and wants to make it happen.
The EPA Proposal on Amalgam Separators
On September 25th, the EPA proposed brand new standards under the Clean Water Act, designed to reduce the amount of dental amalgam that goes into the environment. This would reduce the amount of mercury in the water supply by 8.8 tons or more per year. Kenneth K. Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, was quoted as saying “This is a common sense rule that calls for capturing mercury at a relatively low cost before it is dispersed into the POTW [Publicly Owned Treatment Works].”
New wastewater standards for dental offices are a good thing. According to the EPA, “about half of the mercury that enters POTWs comes from dental offices.” This might seem large to you. Consider this, though: dentists who don’t even place amalgam fillings will drill into them, releasing that filling’s metal content into your wastewater. But when you install an amalgam separator and follow American Dental Association best practices, you reduce your exposure to liability and your practice’s environmental footprint.
Local and State Amalgam Seaparator Regulations already in Place
Voluntary programs and mandates already in place have had great success, supporting the EPA’s position on a new rule. King County, Washington saw a 50% reduction to mercury levels in Puget Sound after an amalgam separator mandate. Fort Collins, Colorado also saw about a 30% drop after doing something similar.
This proposed rule is crucially important and great news for all of us. How does it change the way you see the industry? If you’re starting a new practice, how does separating amalgam waste affect your decision-making?