Rule On Amalgam Management Reinstated by US Agency

Rule On Amalgam Management Reinstated by US Agency

Washington, USA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided on a final rule on the management of dental amalgam discharges into sewer systems. It will come into effect as of July 14, with compliance for most dentists set for July 14, 2020. The regulation closely follows the American Dental Association’s (ADA) best management practices.

Dental practices will be required to use separators and be prohibted from flushing waste amalgam, from traps or filters, down drains. It also prohibits the use of bleack or chlorine-containing cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of solid mercury when cleaning chairside traps and vacuum lines. In trying to reduce paperwork for dentists, they all have are required to fill out a one-time compliance report, regardless of whether they place or remove amalgam. 

The ADA. worked with the EPA for years on the final rule and then commened the agency for what it considers to be a reasonable and fair approach to the management of dental amalgam waste.

The ADA shares the EPA's goal of wanting the dental amalgam waste to be captured so that it may be recycled said ADA President Dr. Gary L. Roberts. He also said that the organization thinks that the new rule, which is a federal standard, is preferred to a bunch of rules and regulations across various states and locations. 

The ADA  has encouraged dental officrd to follow its best management practices for amalgam waste, even though less than one percent of mercury released into the environment from man-made sources comes from dentistry. In 2009, the association modified its best management practices to include the use of amalgam separators that comply with ANSI/ADA Standard No. 108 for Amalgam Separators, which takes into consideration the standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization, a worldwide federation of national standards bodies.

The ADA has decided to develop practical resources to aid member dentists with questions they may have regarding compliance. Also, the ADA business resources has partnered with HealthFIrst, a vendor that offers ADA member dentists special pricing on amalgam separator devices, along with recycling services that meet federel regulatory requirements.

The EPA issued a final rule requiring dental offices nationwide to install amalgam separators in December 2016, but they withdrew the rule after the White House's memorandum ordering federal agencies to freeze all new or pending regulations.

The rule exempts dentists who practice in oral and maxillofacial radiology,oral pathology, periodontics and prosthodontics, and orthodontics. The rule also excludes dentists who do not place amalgam and only remove amalgam in unplanned or emergency situations (estimated at less than 5 percent of removals) and mobile dental units. Dentists who already have separators are grandfathered for ten years.

The EPA thinks that compliance with this new rule will annually reduce the discharge of mercury by 5.1 tons, as well as 5.3 tons of other metals found in waste dental amalgam, to publicly owned treatment works.

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