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Advocacy News

ADA Preparing to Comment on Proposed EPA Amalgam Rule

October 01, 2014 The ADA is preparing comments on 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 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, which the Association will point out in its comments.

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 at least 95 percent of solid waste particles before they enter the sewer system.  In 2007, the ADA updated its best management practices for the disposal of dental amalgam waste to include the use of separators. 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.