Tuesday, October 22, 2019

EPA Amalgam Separator Deadline Looms in the Near Future...


Every dental office will need to have an amalgam separator installed and in service by July 14, 2020 as mandated by the EPA.  Those that do not face fines to bring them into compliance.

While there are several companies in the market, my personal preference is DRNA (Dental Recycling North America).  The company provides a cost effective and turnkey solution to the amalgam separator requirement.  I've been using them for the past 5 years and have been very happy with the service.

According to the EPA:

If improperly managed by dental offices, dental amalgam waste can be released into the environment. Although most dental offices currently use some type of basic filtration system to reduce the amount of mercury solids passing into the sewer system, dental offices are the single largest source of mercury at sewage treatment plants.
The installation of amalgam separators, which catch and hold the excess amalgam waste coming from office spittoons, can further reduce discharges to wastewater. Without these separators, the excess amalgam waste will be released to the sewers.
From sewers, amalgam waste goes to publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) Publicly-Owned Treatment WorksA water treatment facility, as defined by Section 212 of the Clean Water Act, that is used in the storage, treatment, recycling, and reclamation of municipal sewage or industrial wastes of a liquid nature, and is owned by a municipality or other governmental entity. It usually refers to sewage treatment plants. (sewage treatment plants). POTWs have around a 90% efficiency rate of removing amalgam from wastewaters.  Once removed, the amalgam waste becomes part of the POTW's sewage sludge, which is then disposed:
in landfills.  If the amalgam waste is sent to a landfill, the mercury may be released into the ground water or air.
through incineration.  If the mercury is incinerated, mercury may be emitted to the air from the incinerator stacks.
by applying the sludge to agricultural land as fertilizer.  if mercury-contaminated sludge is used as an agricultural fertilizer, some of the mercury used as fertilizer may also evaporate to the atmosphere.
Through precipitation, this airborne mercury eventually gets deposited onto water bodies, land and vegetation. Some dentists throw their excess amalgam into special medical waste containers, believing this to be an environmentally safe disposal practice. If waste amalgam is improperly disposed in medical waste bags, however, the amalgam waste may be incinerated and mercury may be emitted to the air from the incinerator stacks.  This airborne mercury is eventually deposited into water bodies and onto land. 

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