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What dentists need to know about amalgam separators

What dentists need to know about amalgam separators

Dental practices and similar facilities that handle amalgam waste are now required to have amalgam waste separators in place for removal and recycling. However, many practice owners and managers may still be trying to identify the best equipment and recycling service providers for their practices.

While being in compliance with all EPA regulations regarding amalgam separation, it’s important for dental offices not to rush into the process of finding the best amalgam separator for their facilities.

With that in mind, we’ve put together an updated guide on amalgam separators, how to determine which is the best fit for your facility and how to find a comprehensive waste removal and recycling services provider that can help your practice remain compliant with all local, state and federal regulations affecting the industry.

Why amalgam separators are required

Many dental facilities and offices are now required by the EPA to install and use dental amalgam waste separators to prevent mercury that is found in amalgam from entering wastewater. While safe for use in cavity fillings, too much amalgam in wastewater systems or landfills could result in unsafe levels of mercury that pose both environmental and health risks.

The compliance date set by the EPA was July 14, 2020. While this ruling affects most dental practices, there are some possible exemptions. However, it will apply to most common types of dental offices and facilities.

This rule was created in part because dental practices are one of the main sources responsible for mercury discharges into publicly owned treatment works. With this rule, the EPA hopes to considerably reduce annual discharge of mercury into these water treatment operations.

Amalgam separators are needed in this effort because they are what keeps mercury from remaining in water systems even after wastewater has been treated. Mercury that is left after treatment can easily pose environmental risks and further spread through incineration, being placed in landfills, in sludge application on land and also through surface water discharge, according to the EPA.

Start searching for the right equipment

It’s not difficult to find amalgam separators. Dental practices can easily find practical and affordable units that allow for easy operation and recycling.

However, not all equipment providers offer the same quality of units. Some providers even go above and beyond by offering amalgam waste recycling services for their dental clients.

Find the right separator for your dental practice or facility

Determining which type of amalgam separator is best suited for your dental practice requires knowledge of the facilities current equipment and set up, as well as taking into consideration the building’s layout and design.

First, facility managers and owners must answer the following questions to find the proper separator for their building:

  • Are any amalgam-generating chairs in the facility centrally plumbed?
  • Is a wet or dry vacuum system installed in the facility?
  • Does the facility have enough space for a separator unit to be installed either at or below office grade?
  • Does the separator unit need to be installed ahead or or after the wet ring or dry vacuum pump systems?

Once those questions can be answered, then it’s time to move on to determining your budget. Be sure to ask any equipment provider whether they also offer a recycling program as part of the purchase cost, what sort of maintenance requirements the unit demands and what the unit’s capacity is.

The building layout will also play a role in selecting the right separator equipment. For example, it’s common for many dental practices to install their amalgam separators in vacuum system piring in-line and close to or at least near operating chairs, in-line at central locations found further up the piping than the vacuum pump or at the outlet side of an air/water separator.

The amalgam separator can also be placed in the basement, which is a typical location, if available. This is a great way for practices to conserve valuable office space and help wastewater flow better toward the separator.

Types of amalgam separators

Common amalgam separators use a variety or combination of different methods to separate the amalgam waste from water. Units can use sedimentation, filtration, centrifugation and combinations of methods to capture and hold waste.

The equipment type selected likely will come down to costs, including upfront and ongoing maintenance and servicing.

The best separators for buildings that don’t have a basement

Chairside amalgam separators are often recommended for facilities that do not have basements.

These units are capable of managing all types of dental amalgam waste, including scrap, capsules, and teeth that have been extracted. Like other unit types, they come in different sizes.

Why dentists should use amalgam separators from DRNA

Dentists need to be concerned primarily with the health of their patients and ensuring that their oral care needs are taken care of both quickly and completely. They should not have to juggle that priority with making sure that their operations meet local, state and federal regulations.

That’s where DRNA comes in. DRNA services, including dental amalgam waste recycling, are provided according to any regulations that may apply to a practice or other dental facility.

The same is true of our amalgam separators. They meet all local, state and federal regulations for amalgam disposal and recycling.

Dentists trust our equipment

DRNA is proud to be the company that is endorsed by dental associations that represent more than 73,000 dentists. Those associations trust our company because they know that they can rely on our equipment.

Dentists choose our amalgam separators because of many factors. There is no need for anyone to monitor a fill line. The unit is guaranteed to last one year before it needs to be recycled. It can be installed on either wet or dry vacuums and there is one amalgam separator per vacuum.

Plus, when you partner with DRNA, you are assured on demand pick-up, recycling and documentation.

Shop amalgam separators

DRNA has the amalgam separator that is the right fit for your practice or facility. Our BU10 unit can provide separation for one to eight chairs, while our BU10-30 unit provides separation for nine to 16 chairs.

Your initial separator and accessories kit may be free, too. Call 800-360-1001 or fill out the form on this page to see if you qualify for a free amalgam separator.