The recent EPA ruling about dental amalgam management has generated a lot of discussion in the industry.
By now, you have seen ads, articles and promotions for amalgam separators. What does this ruling truly mean for you? And what’s the best solution for your practice? Let’s take a deep dive into what’s behind all the buzz.
Dental Amalgam and the Environment
As you know, dental amalgam is a material most commonly used for restorations caused by tooth decay. Amalgam has been used in the oral health care industry for over 150 years and is composed of both elemental liquid mercury and an alloy powder.1 Due to the fact that mercury is a principle ingredient in amalgam fillings, there has been persistent concerns about how dental amalgam might affect health and the environment.2
There are three forms of mercury: Elemental, organic and inorganic. As a dental professional, you can be working with elemental mercury daily, but this is no cause for alarm, as it is the most common and least potentially harmful form. The problem lies when elemental mercury is converted, through bacterial processes, into organic mercury (methylmercury), which is highly toxic and can be found in the environment.
Of the 20,000-30,000 tons of mercury discharged into the environment each year as a result of human activities3, the majority is contributed by the dental industry. Mercury from dental amalgam can end up in the soil, atmosphere, surface water and ground water through several routes, including wastewater discharges from dental practices, and emissions to air and soil resulting from the cremation or burial of individuals with dental amalgam fillings4. Consequently, toxic methylmercury can be found in fish and other aquatic life inevitably traveling its way through the food chain.
Health Risks Associated with Methylmercury
Mercury contamination causes a wide range of health effects in both animals and humans. While low levels may not be directly lethal for individual organisms, toxicological effects like impaired reproduction, growth, neuro-development, and learning ability, in addition to behavioral changes, can lead to increases in mortality. High levels of methylmercury can cause devastating effects.
In the 1950s, the Chisso Corporation in Minamata, Japan, released untreated waste containing methylmercury chloride into Minamata Bay. Once in the bay’s sediments, the mercury was readily absorbed by marine species, contaminating the entire ecosystem.5 Fish consumed by local residents resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 individuals and 2,265 people were certified as having suffered directly from mercury poisoning.6 In addition, the methylmercury in the ecosystem severely impacted the developing fetuses of pregnant women. Mercury poisoning is now commonly known as Minamata disease.
By July 14, 2020, dental practices that do not already have an amalgam separator are required to install one. All dental practices who already have an amalgam separator have until July 14, 2027, to install a system that meets all the regulation requirements.
Improving Amalgam Waste Management in the Dental Practice
The American Dental Association (ADA) took action in 2002 as a response to the devastating events that took place in Minamata. An ADA sponsored environmental assessment found 78 percent of amalgam waste could be captured through dental office adherence and orchestrated a best management practices associated with handling amalgam and recycling. In 2007, the ADA released a revised best management practices for amalgam waste by instituting the precautions necessary to reduce the amount of dental amalgam. These practices included using amalgam separators.2
As a result, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule governing the management of dental amalgam discharge. The EPA final rule7 on amalgam separators, effective as of July 14, 2017, affects dental practices nationwide with the requirement to install either an ISO 11143:2008 certified amalgam separator or a certified ANSI/ADA Standard No.108 amalgam separator with a separation rate of at least 95%.
If you have a new dental practice, there is a requirement to install an amalgam separator within 90 days. By July 14, 2020, dental practices that do not already have an amalgam separator are required to install one. All dental practices who already have an amalgam separator have until July 14, 2027, to install a system that meets all the regulation requirements.
No Matter what your Amalgam Compliance Needs are, you can Count on Crosstex
The new Syclone™ Amalgam Separator from Crosstex, supports dental practices in being compliant with the EPA ruling on amalgam separators for wastewater management.
Its innovative design allows for rapid velocity and high-yield waste capture, coupled with a high-capacity containment system that extends the time between canister changes. The cutting edge cyclonic action delivers highly efficient >99% amalgam separation.
All replacement canisters include an environmentally safe recycling program that meets both state and federal regulations. The canister replacement program is designed for a streamlined process, including an online system for ordering the return label. Best of all, the Syclone Amalgam Separator canister is compatible with other systems, for added flexibility and convenience when an alternative canister option is desired.
For ease of installation, the mounting bracket and all accessories are included. The ambidextrous design of the Syclone system also meets the need of each individual office, and can help eliminate additional costs often associated with plumbing line reconfiguration. A parallel plumbing option is available for offices with more than 10 chairs.
In addition to less parts that reduce the potential of leaks and failure points, the Syclone Amalgam Separator is ISO 11143:2008 certified by NSF International and backed by a competitive 2-year warranty* for added peace of mind.
Be compliant with the EPA requirement for amalgam separators in the dental practice, while contributing to a cleaner and safer environment.
Learn more at Crosstex.com/Syclone
*Warranty for the system. Other terms and conditions apply. Patent pending.
Syclone™ is a trademark of Crosstex International, Inc.
Submitted by Crosstex
References: 1 Department of Health and Human Services: Amalgam Use and Benefits 2 California Dental Association: Dental Amalgam: Public Health and the Environment 3 Chin G, Chong J, Kluczewski A, Lau A, Gorjy S, Tennant M: The Environmental Effects of Dental Amalgam 4 Green Facts: Tooth filling materials Dental Amalgams and Alternative materials 5 Government of Canada: Mercury in the Food Chain 6 Dr. Stephen Juan: The Minamata Disaster 7 United States Environment Protection Agency: Dental Effluent Guidelines
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