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Why amalgam recycling should be a top priority for dental offices

Why amalgam recycling should be a top priority for dental offices

Is your office in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s dental amalgam waste regulations?

As the 2020 compliance deadline approaches, your dental office should be taking significant steps toward achieving compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) dental amalgam rule. The rule manages how to prevent amalgam waste from entering wastewater and sewer systems.

Realizing that proper handling of amalgam waste needed to be prioritized and ensured, the EPA in December 2016 issued a rule that required most dental offices in the United States to install amalgam separators.

The rule was withdrawn temporarily in January 2017, but became effective again in July 2017. Most dentists must be in compliance with by July 14, 2020.

What your office needs to do

The EPA’s regulations require the installation, maintenance, monitoring and recycling of an amalgam separator. Dental offices must also comply with the American Dental Association’s Best Management Practices for recycling the scrap amalgam.

Your office’s amalgam separator must be recycled in a timely manner, as recommended by the manufacturer. Among other regulations, dental offices must properly install, maintain and inspect the amalgam separator.

Is your dental office in compliance with the EPA’s dental amalgam waste rule? If not, DRNA is here to assist. There is a lot to learn about the regulatory requirements - and those will be discussed shortly - but DRNA can simplify the process and help you make sure your dental office comes into and remains in compliance.

Why amalgam waste is a concern

First, let’s define amalgam to better understand why it’s of concern to the EPA.

Amalgam is a combination of metals that have been chemically bonded with mercury, a known toxin. Mercury can pose health risks to people and can adversely affect the environment.

Mercury can enter the environment from your office via wastewater, vapors or scraps.

The EPA states it expects compliance with this rule will reduce annual mercury discharge by 5.1 tons and discharge of other metals found in dental amalgam waste by 5.3 tons.

Although the American Dental Association (ADA) agrees with the EPA that dental amalgam waste should be properly and carefully recycled, it is important to note that dental amalgam is a safe, affordable and durable cavity filling material.

It is the mixture of metals contained in amalgam that make proper recycling a top priority for both organizations.

Defining scrap amalgam

Scrap amalgam that must be recycled comes in a number of forms.

It is found in:

  • Empty capsules from pre-capsulated alloy
  • Excess mix or carvings
  • Extracted teeth containing amalgam
  • Disposable in-line traps and Evac-u-Traps from wet-vac systems

The ADA and EPA agree: Dental offices should recycle amalgam waste

The American Dental Association (ADA) worked with the EPA on the final rule and called it “a fair and reasonable approach to the management of dental amalgam waste.” The ADA already encouraged dental offices to capture and recycle amalgam waste.

But now, it is a requirement.

As noted by the ADA, having a nationwide rule instead of a varying mix of rules depending on location is just easier for everyone.

Compliance makes financial sense

DRNA already has detailed why your dental office should make it a priority to come into compliance with the EPA’s amalgam separators rule: It will save your office money.

Your office will be able to anticipate costs and also avoid costly fines for not coming into compliance on time should you wait too long.

DRNA helps navigate rules and regulations

Many businesses, including dental offices, have to follow certain local, state and federal regulations. But your first priority is operating your business and taking excellent care of your clients.

At DRNA, we understand the ins-and-outs of the EPA’s amalgam recycling regulations.

We’ve already touched on the requirement that dental offices need an amalgam separator and the other regulations related to that.

But there are other regulations needed to follow to be in compliance concerning amalgam, including:

  • All scrap amalgam must be collected for recycling.
  • The use of non-chlorinated line cleaners in the pH range of 6 to 8 is required.
  • Waste cannot ever be put in regular trash or biohazardous waste.

Your dental office must also monitor, report and keep accurate records. The monitoring and enforcement will be done by your local wastewater treatment facility.

Certain states already require dental offices to install an amalgam separator. You can also find more information here on state-by-state medical waste regulations.

We also have compiled a document detailing the state-by-state regulated medical wastes regulations.

DRNA’s trusted technology can help

The EPA states that amalgam separators “are a practical, affordable and readily available technology for capturing mercury and other metals before they are discharged into sewers that drain into water systems.”

DRNA is proud to be the only company in the world to have been accepted as a participant in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Environment Testing Verification program (PDF).

The EPA created the Environment Testing Verification program to help increase the use of innovative environmental technologies. The program also seeks to promote environmental protection efforts by helping better and more cost-effective technologies be more quickly adopted.

Our amalgam separators have all been tested to be in compliance with ISO 11143 standards. They also have been given the US EPA verification and testing to ISO 11143 standard.

DRNA technology is used by early adopters

We stand behind our products as the best on the entire market. Our customer partnerships in both the public and private sectors speak to our products’ strong market position.

Browse a list of our partners at the bottom of this page to see who we work with.

Contact DRNA with questions

DRNA is a leader in dental waste management and recycling. Whether amalgam waste, x-ray chemistry, lead, bio-hazardous or pharmaceutical waste, DRNA provides essential and affordable solutions for every dental office.

DRNA is prepared to help your dental office navigate the compliance process when it comes to EPA rules and regulations. We are the dental community’s complete regulatory solution.

Contact us to to see how we can assist you today.