Waste management is one of the core ecological challenges to the modern world, especially to the dental practitioners who deal with regulated waste every day. Many years ago health care facilities used to flush medical equipment down the toilet or dump it down the drain. But, now the world is recognizing the impact of such ill practices and so, is looking forward to effective dental clinical waste disposal solutions.
Before we discuss the ways to handle this waste, it is imperative that you have a brief knowledge about the types of wastes generated. This will further help in choosing the right way of dental clinic waste disposal, without getting confused by the complexity of the waste management practice.
Different Types of Dental Clinical Waste & Effective Methods of Disposal
There are different types of wastes in dentistry, most of which are not supposed to be thrown in the regular trash. Such wastes are categorized into four major categories, namely:
Hazardous waste refers to products that are inflammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive or pose some other risk to human health or environment. These materials enter the environment as a byproduct of dental procedures, such as when amalgam restorations are eliminated, and high-speed suction lines carry the material to the wastewater stream. X-ray fixer and developer are the best examples of this waste type.
The US EPA has established various regulations for hazardous dental clinical waste disposal, according to which a limited amount of a hazardous material may be discharged. However, these limits are regulated by the state or local authorities.
Dental Sharps and Bio Waste Disposal
Sharps refers to the instruments that can cut or pierce the human skin and expose the skin to contaminated articles, resulting in diseases like HIV and Hepatitis. While the other accompanied wastes, like blood soaked gauze comes under the bio-waste category.
The Sharps dental clinical waste disposal is done in the rigid, leakage-free containers that are further handled by different processes, like Waste Pickup Services and Mail-Back Programs. While, the bio waste is packed in a leak- and puncture-resistant disposal plastic bag of a leak-proof container with a universal biohazard symbol.
Dental Amalgam prepared to be used as dental fillings comprise of a mixture of metals, like silver, copper, and tin, in addition to mercury which binds the component into a hard substance. When talking about this category, the common dental amalgam wastes produced are:
- Clean unused scrap amalgam which includes excess material and damaged capsules (non-contact amalgam),
- Used amalgam (contact amalgam) including sink trap cleanout, and
- Amalgam contained in extracted teeth.
The dental amalgam waste should never be disposed in the garbage, sharps containers or in the drain. Rather, the disposal of amalgam waste should be done by a dental supply dealer that carries PureWay Amalgam Recycling Systems.
As per the new EPA rule on amalgam waste from dentistry (https://www.epa.gov/eg/dental-effluent-guidelines) , dental offices across the United States using amalgam must install an ISO 11143 certified amalgam separator. In addition to this, they must follow the two best practices of waste management recommended by the ADA. These two practices are as mentioned below:
- Restrict the discharge of waste (scrap) amalgam from chairside traps, vacuum pump filters, screens, dental tools, etc.
- Prevent the use of line cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of solid mercury while cleaning chairside traps and vacuum lines.
According to the experts, an amalgam separator is a device specially designed to remove the amalgam particles from the wastewater and ultimately, lower down the amount of amalgam entering the sewage system.
In addition to this, you can also recycle the amalgam waste and reduce its loss on the environment. In case you are wondering about the recycling mechanism, take no time to contact an amalgam waste recycler in your area or city, and get familiar with all the requirements.
Pharmaceutical waste is the type of waste containing medicinal drugs that are expired, unused, contaminated damaged or not further in use.
Besides hazardous and amalgam waste management, you also need to consider the pharmaceutical waste generated in the dental offices. EPA encourages people to take the perks of Pharmaceutical take-back programs that accept prescription or over-the-counter drugs which they dispose of in an environmental-friendly manner.
Whether you are an occasional producer, or you generate high volumes of regulated dental clinical waste, PureWay Compliance is always by your side. Our safe dental clinical waste disposal solutions will provide peace of mind and our compliance specialist will help answer all your questions for OSHA and Infection Control compliance. To learn more call 877.765.3030 or go to www.pureway.com