The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 27 that it will introduce a new rule to regulate dental amalgam waste by requiring all U.S. dental practices to separate the mercury before introducing it into the wastewater system. This issue has arisen more than once in the past, but if the agency has its way the new rule will take effect in 2011.
The EPA’s website contains this information about its involvement in the amalgam waste issue:
“EPA regulates the discharge of pollutants to wastewater by establishing national regulations known as “effluent guidelines” and “pretreatment standards.” These regulations reduce pollutant discharges from specific industries that discharge either directly to surface waters or indirectly through publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs). EPA announced in September 2010 the start of regulatory development to reduce discharges of mercury from dental offices.
“The new regulation will establish requirements for the discharge of dental amalgam and mercury, based on the application of the best technology capable of removing the amalgam. EPA intends to focus its technology assessment on amalgam separators. Properly used and maintained separators can reduce mercury discharges from amalgam wastes by approximately 95 percent.
“While EPA is in rulemaking development, EPA will work with dentists, states, local governments, and environmental groups to encourage voluntary adoption of dental amalgam separators.”
For more information, visit http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/index.cfm