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ADA Statement on Proposed EPA Amalgam Rule

September 30, 2014

Contact Information:
Robert Raible

Washington, D.C. – The ADA is reviewing a draft rule intended to reduce the amount of dental amalgam that dental offices release into wastewater systems published today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   The Association will comment on the rule once that review is completed. 

The Association has consulted with the EPA over the past several years as the agency developed the rule and supports a reasonable national pretreatment standard for amalgam waste so long as it is not unduly burdensome on dental professionals. There are technical differences between the ADA’s position and what EPA is proposing, and some of these differences may be significant. The Association will point out these issues in its comments on the rule.

The proposed rule is based largely on the Association’s best management practices, including the use of amalgam separators, collection devices installed in dental office plumbing to capture and remove solid waste particles before they enter the sewer system.  The use of separators allows greater recycling and reduces the amount of amalgam entering wastewater treatment plants. Very little—less than 1 percent—of the mercury released into the environment comes from dentistry. Dental amalgam, a safe, affordable and durable material with an established record of safety and effectiveness, is a mixture of metals, including silver, copper, tin and mercury.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 159,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org