Amalgam Recovery

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Overview

Reducing Mercury by Keeping Drains Amalgam Free
Working with the Dental Community

Mercury-containing wastes can threaten our environment. Washed down the drain or otherwise improperly disposed of, mercury can find its way into Sacramento waterways and the environment.

Mercury is a persistent and bioaccumulative pollutant. In water, microorganisms can convert mercury to methylmercury, a more toxic pollutant to fish, other animals, and humans.

Regional San is working to reduce mercury discharges to the Sacramento River, and the dental community can help!

By following industry-approved best management practices, dental offices can do their part to help reduce mercury in our waterways. In fact, dentists can now become certified through our new, voluntary program as a sustainable business. One key and very important practice is the installation and proper maintenance of an amalgam separator. Amalgam separators use filtration, settlement, or ion exchange to remove amalgam and its metal constituents from vacuum systems before the wastewater is discharged to the sewer system.

While chairside traps capture the largest waste amalgam particles, amalgam separators focus on removing the remaining, much smaller particles. Learn more by exploring the Amalgam Recovery Resources.

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Proposed EPA Rule on Dental Effluent

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing technology-based pretreatment standards for discharges from certain dental practices. The proposed rule was published in draft form on October 22, 2014. Public comments on the rule are due by February 20, 2015, and a final rule is estimated to be published in December 2016.

This rule would require a 2008 ISO 11143-certified amalgam separator with a removal efficiency of no less than 99.0% and select Best Management Practices for certain dental types. Regional San is participating in reviewing the regulations and providing comments.

Links

EPA Proposed Dental Effluent Guidelines

General Information

Certification Program

Regional San has partnered with the Sacramento Area Sustainable Business Program to develop a certification program for qualified dentists in our service area who voluntarily take action to prevent pollution. Regional San’s service area includes unincorporated Sacramento County; the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento, and West Sacramento; and the communities of Courtland and Walnut Grove.

General Information

Resources

Dental offices that place or remove amalgam fillings are a controllable source of mercury that impacts our waterways. In our region, mercury in the dental community’s wastewater is 500 times more concentrated than in residential wastewater, and it represents more than 40 percent of the total mercury load to the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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