EPA Reinstates Dental Amalgam Rule

EPA ruling amalgam

On Wednesday, June 14th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially reinstated the original dental amalgam rule that was set forth on December 15, 2016.  The original rule was planned to be effective in Jan 2017, but the agency withdrew the rule following the White House’s Jan. 20 memorandum ordering federal agencies to freeze all new or pending regulations. The current rule is planned to be effective on July 14 and compliance for most dentists will be July 14, 2020.

The final rule closely follows the ADA’s best management practices (BMPs), which requires dental practices to do the following:

  • Operate and maintain one or more ISO 11143 compliant amalgam separators.
  • Follow two Best Management Practices (BMP)
    • Must not discharge scrap amalgam waste to POTWs.
    • Must not use line cleaners that have a pH level higher than 8 or lower than 6.

The new rule also meets the nine principles established by the ADA House of Delegates as a condition for ADA support for a national rule.

Dental Practices Affected by the Rule

The EPA rule will affect existing and new dental practices that discharge dental amalgam. Accordingly, dental offices must meet the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) technology-based pretreatment standards for the discharges of pollutants into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).

Dental practices that are not affected

  • Dentists who practice in oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, and prosthodontics are exempt from the rule.
  • Dentists who do not place amalgam and only remove amalgam in unplanned or emergency situations (estimated at less than 5 percent of removals) are also exempt.
  • Mobile dental units are exempt.
  • Dentists who already have separators are grandfathered for 10 years before their separators must be compliant with ISO 11143 requirements.

EPA Dental Amalgam Rule – Additional Information

Need to know more information about the dental amalgam rule in detail? HealthFirst created a prior post to help inform dental practices of the top 5 things they need to know about the new EPA dental amalgam rule.




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