WASHINGTON, DC, July 14—The EPA’s deadline requiring most dental offices nationwide to install amalgam separators officially has arrived. After a brief hiatus following the White House's Jan. 20 freeze on recent federal regulations, as of today any new dental offices that discharge dental amalgam must immediately comply by installing ISO 11143-compliant devices such as the ECO II amalgam separator, while older offices are mandated to replace their pre-existing systems within 3 years. Even for dentists who don’t place any new amalgam, the American Dentist’s Association recommends installing a separator to capture any particles that may break free during work on existing fillings.

Simply put, dental amalgam is a material routinely used to fill cavities, otherwise known as silver fillings. Over the years since amalgam’s introduction as a solution to teeth restoration, controversy has swirled around its use due to one of its key ingredients: mercury. While other materials now can be used to rebuild teeth and amalgam is used less often than in the past, its removal still poses a problem by releasing metallic mercury into its environment. The solution: a device designed to capture amalgam particles from dental office wastewater through sedimentation, filtration, centrifugation, or some combination of the three.  Just as their name implies, amalgam separators isolate amalgam from the wastewater to prevent it from entering the sewage system.

But according to the American National Standards Institute and the American Dental Association, amalgam waste not only includes the amalgam scrap itself but also the following: chair-side trap filters and vacuum pump filters that may contain amalgam; any saliva ejectors used during dental procedures involving amalgam; used amalgam capsule; extracted teeth with amalgam restorations; as well as waste items that are contaminated with it. This means scrap amalgam now also requires special handling. Consequently, in addition to recommending the use of devices, ANSI and ADA advise that best management practices for amalgam waste handling should also include disposal of collected amalgam.

Fortunately for dentists, convenient options such as the disposal-by-mail system offered by PureWay Waste Compliance Systems allow dental offices to easily and affordably dispose of this hazardous waste, saving some practices 50% or more over traditional pickup companies. In PureWay’s case, packages also include access to a support team that will walk you through each stage of the compliance process, from planning and preparation to execution and documentation.

While the dental industry adhere to specific requirements for medical waste management and OSHA Compliance, a few choice programs like PureWay’s offer dentists peace-of-mind in the knowledge that their practices always meet any regulations and legislative expectations.

PureWay is your all-in-one solution to convenient waste management solutions, from site-specific OSHA compliance to infection control training, in addition to offering complete and fully customized programs for each office. For more information on compliance problems, visit the PureWay website or call 877-765-3030 for more infomation.

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