Which Amalgam Separator Should You Buy? Top 5 Things you Need to Know

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Many dental offices must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dental Amalgam Rule. This includes installing an amalgam separator before the July 14, 2020 deadline. Is your practice ready? These units differ in terms of capacity, how captured amalgam is removed and recycled, how easily they are serviced and how often, and how much they cost to buy and operate year after year. Without some guidance, evaluating amalgam separators can be a daunting task.

HealthFirst is here to inform dental practices of the top 5 things they need to know about finding the right amalgam separator for your dental practice.

1. Amalgam Separator Suction Volume

Not all dental offices are created equal. Some practices only have a few operatories while others have many more. Your vacuum system (which includes the waste lines and vacuum pump) has been properly sized to handle the waste output of your practice. The size of the waste lines and vacuum pumps will increase with the size of your practice, which is usually based on how many active operatories are in the practice. This will ensure that your office will experience proper suction volume in each operatory.

EPA-dental-amalgam-ruleYou need to take into consideration the same thought process when sizing your separator. Larger waste lines (Around 2”+ in diameter) require separators with larger inlet and outlet connections. This will ensure that your suction volume will not reduce when the separator is installed. Make sure to check the diameter of your main suction line into your suction pump to determine the size of separator you need to purchase.

2. Amalgam Separator Filter Capacity

In general, the larger the practice the more waste is produced and captured in the separator. It’s important to know that the separator not only captures amalgam waste but all waste that is passed through the suction system, this includes the prophy paste pumice that is produced during dental cleanings. In addition, your amalgam separator will collect the waste produced by air abrasion. All these add up to the waste collected by the separator filter. On average, the waste produced in each operatory is about .5 liters a year. You can get a good estimate of your average waste per year by adding that volume with the number of operatories in your practice.

Not all separator filters are created equal, as some have filter capacities that are far greater than others. Be sure to take these variables into consideration when estimating how many filter exchanges per year that your office will have to do to keep up with your waste.

3. Amalgam Separator Annual Maintenance & Reporting

All dental offices, whether they place or remove amalgam, must submit a One-Time Compliance Report to local Control Authorities. This report includes information on the dental facility and its operations and a certification that the dental discharger meets the requirements of the applicable performance standard. It is recommended to visit the EPA website to determine who your local control authority is and inquire what specific paperwork is needed to be filled out before the deadline.

liquid-mercuryIn addition, dental offices that have installed amalgam separators must maintain maintenance reports. This includes how many separator filters were exchanged per year and where those filters were sent for recycling. This can be done manually at the office or you can use a 3rd party compliance reporting tool, which can be provided by your separator supplier. As this is an important part of the requirement, be sure to pick a separator that will provide you with proper reporting tools that fit the needs of your practice. If you manage multiple offices, be sure to look for a solution that can track all your locations in one interface, such as the OnTraq Compliance Management tool by HealthFirst.

4. Amalgam Separator Durability & Guarantees

An amalgam separator is not a temporary piece of equipment. Some separators are built to last the lifetime of your practice and some are not. Be sure to consider separators that are built with durable materials that are designed to last and be cautious of those who might need replacing a few years down the road.

Also be mindful of product guarantees, as some separators come with lifetime guarantees and other are limited. Be sure to ask your supplier what type of product guarantees the separator that you are considering comes with.

5. Amalgam Separator Overall Cost of Ownership

Would you buy a $100 printer if it will cost you $100/year in ink or would you buy a $200 printer that will only cost you $50/year in ink? How long do you plan to keep that printer? These are like questions that you need to ask yourself when considering which amalgam separator you should buy for your practice.

Several manufacturers are offering enticingly low initial purchase prices for their amalgam separators. Some of these offerings today are persuading you to ignore the fact of how much it will cost to maintain the system on a yearly basis. Be sure to look at the total cost of ownership (Purchase, installation, maintenance, and yearly cost for filter exchanges). In terms of overall cost of ownership, the initial purchase price becomes insignificant and your yearly cost for filter exchanges becomes paramount.

HealthFirst Amalgam Recovery Program: The Right Solution for EPA Compliance

HealthFirst’s comprehensive, cost-effective amalgam recovery solution meets EPA dental amalgam regulations and is endorsed by ADA Business Resources. This solution consists of industry-leading Rebec amalgam separators with the lowest overall cost of operations and a lifetime product guarantee, mail-back amalgam waste containers and pH-balanced line cleaner.

In addition, ADA Members always have access to the best prices and promotional offerings for all amalgam waste recovery products and services purchased though HealthFirst.

Have Questions about EPA Compliance? We are Here to Help

Contact a HealthFirst account representative at 800-331-1984 or Sales@HealthFirst.com for a free consultation about how you can prepare your office for EPA compliance and gain access to the latest promotional offerings available.

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