By Tracey Kirkman, Solmetex

As you know, the 2019 EPA Final Dental Rule requires installation of an amalgam separator in most practices to reduce mercury pollution. Because of the mercury contained in amalgam fillings, dental offices are the leading non-industrial source of mercury waste in the US.

These systems are critical for protecting the water systems that our communities, businesses, and farms rely on daily. Additionally, inspections happen, and penalties can be stiff—including requiring a practice to close its doors until the issue is resolved.

Despite declining use of amalgam fillings, millions of existing fillings contain it, and only a few countries have restricted its use. Nearly every dentist will continue to see patients with amalgam fillings for many years to come.

The proactive strategy is to act as if every patient walking in has amalgam fillings. It’s crucial for practices to have a reliable method in place for every patient to prevent amalgam from entering the water system.

Require No Effort During Procedures

The only EPA-approved method of removing mercury from your wastewater is using an integrated amalgam separator. These are connected to your vacuum line downstream of all chairs and operate discreetly in the background. They efficiently capture all particles—including amalgam—drawn into the suction lines of the entire practice. Every trace is collected for recycling without effort from your staff during procedures.

Non-integrated or single-use collection methods, if used, should be in place for every procedure where a filling might be disturbed.

Simplify Compliance

Compliance with the EPA Dental Rule is compulsory; and it’s straightforward when an integrated system is used. Because they operate continuously for all procedures; a certificate of recycling is all that’s needed.

Something that must be noted, however, is a full collection container cannot effectively trap mercury and can also negatively affect vacuum performance. Check it periodically! Replacing containers is simple and can be done by anyone.

Single-use collection methods require documentation for every individual use and justification when not used—in addition to recycling certification.

In either case, all records must be kept for 3 years. The efficiency of the system and documentation burden on staff should be considered when evaluating collection methods.

Are Cost Effective

Integrated systems have minimal per-patient costs compared to single-use solutions. Consumable usage is reduced, and the systems require far less effort, making them a highly cost-effective and financially wise choice. Also, expenditures are predictable with an integrated system.

To summarize, an integrated system ensures efficient, compliant operations, and can offer significant cost savings. If you have any questions about your system or how to recycle the waste, please be sure to contact the manufacturer for support.

Solmetex offers a complete, efficient removal and recycle program for waste amalgam. Its NXT Hg5® amalgam separation system meets or exceeds all state and federal requirements for the safe removal of mercury in the dental office. Recycling is simple and completes the compliance process. NXT collection containers come with the secure packaging and prepaid labels needed to ship to the recycler. Once received, a certificate is generated which can also be accessed 24/7 in the My Solutions Portal. Don’t wait to recycle!