Blog: Final Ruling for EPA Regulations in Dental Offices for Handling Amalgam

 November 3, 2017

The Summary


The Environmental Protection Agency has set standards in order to support the Clean Water Act. They have also set standards for the disposal of dental amalgam waste. Dentists are now required to use amalgam separators. Amalgam separators are solid collectors that are installed on vacuum lines and are designed to capture all waste before it reaches the sewer lines and water treatment facility. Dentists are also required to use two of the best management practices (BMPs) that are recommended by the American Dental Association. This is the EPA’s final ruling regarding the disposal of dental amalgam waste. Dental offices are no longer be able to send amalgam down the drain in their practice.

This ruling affects all dentists and the purpose of this ruling is to reduce the amount of mercury that ends up in the sewer system. The EPA has stated that this new ruling will cut mercury discharge by 5.1 tons. Mercury is not the only element that is in amalgam as there are several other harmful metals and the EPA predicts that the regulations will help reduce the waste of these additional metals by 5.3 tons.

Gary L. Roberts, the president of the American Dental Association stated that he agrees with the new ruling and that the new ruling is better than having regulations that can vary from state to state, which was the case, prior to July 14, 2017.

The Important Dates

The EPA set this final ruling regarding amalgam removal products on July 14, 2017. The compliance date for existing practices to install an amalgam separator is July 14, 2020. The compliance date is the time when dentists will have to adhere to these standards. Dentists who do not adhere to these standards may be fined.