Chicago-area dentists with their proximity to Lake Michigan may have been aware of existing regulations covering mercury and amalgam disposal throughout the Great Lakes region. Minnesota, Wisconsin, and most recently Michigan and Ohio have in place or have introduced regulations covering amalgam disposal in dental offices. To the North, amalgam separators have been required for some time throughout Canada.
Recent legislation in Illinois will require the installation of an amalgam separator in dental offices throughout the state. SB1213 has passed and been sent for approval to the Illinois governor. This bill amends the Mercury Switch Removal Act and extends coverage of the act to amalgam (silver fillings) “added, removed, or modified in the course of treating patients” in a dental office.
Should the bill be signed into law, by 2015 any “dental office, school, or vocational education program” that adds, removes, or modifies amalgam will need to install an amalgam separator onto the office’s wastewater lines before it empties into the sewer or a septic system.
Amalgam separators have been used for years in many states and in Europe to remove amalgam from the waste lines of dental offices. In areas of the US where required, Amalgam separators must conform to ISO standard 11143 which governs the use and installation of separators as well as providing for a testing method to certify removal of at least 95% of amalgam present in the waste stream (some areas have a higher percentage removal requirement as well).
Mercury is one of the primary components of dental amalgam and can accumulate in fish and other wildlife. Mercury has been shown to contribute to a variety of pathologies including kidney dysfunction and a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders as well as inhibiting neurological development in children and fetuses of pregnant women exposed to Mercury.
Need help determining what amalgam separator is right for you? Fortunately, we covered this a year ago in issue #24 of Tech Tips.
American Dental Accessories, Inc. also offers a full range of amalgam separators and amalgam disposal containers for your convenience.