Amalgam Recycling in North America

Dental amalgam has been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years, and even if you are not placing amalgam, many dentists are removing old, degraded amalgam that must go somewhere. Where exactly does that amalgam

go? Straight to the publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Did you know that dental offices are responsible for approximately 50% of the mercury waste that is received by POTWs? Mercury is a bio-accumulative pollutant that builds up in fish and shellfish, which is dangerous to the health of the human nervous system when ingested.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule which would require mandatory use of amalgam separators to control discharge of dental amalgam. In response to a petition signed by over 13,000 dentists, this legislation would be the first nationwide attempt to manage mercury that would otherwise be released into air, land and water. The EPA estimates that nationwide usage of amalgam separators will reduce metal discharges by 8.8 tons per year.

If passed, the rule would require dentists to install an ISO-11143 certified amalgam separator (that must be at least 95% effective) and follow best management practices to limit amalgam discharge (including the replacement and recycling of full collection canisters). Dentists who have already installed an amalgam separator will be allowed to keep it and will be considered compliant for the life of the machine, even if the machine does not meet amalgam removal efficiency standards.

The average annual cost of an amalgam separator for dental offices is $700, but the positives outweigh the costs, as evidenced by states like Michigan and New York that have already implemented similar dental amalgam reduction laws.

Not only should you install an amalgam separator, you should also be sure that the disinfectant used is safe for use with amalgam-capturing devices. Chlorine bleach should be used with caution when cleaning lines, since it can cause an unexpected health risk. What happens is the chlorine reacts chemically with the amalgam particles and actually dissolves the mercury from the rest of the amalgam and the fumes from that separated mercury waft into the dental office itself. 


PureWay offers the entire end-to-end amalgam solution for any dental practice’s needs. We carry

Please contact our specialists at 877-765-3030 if you have any questions or concerns about your state/local dental amalgam handling requirements. We can also assist you if you need help regarding the installation, operation and maintenance of our amalgam separators.