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Dental Office Amalgam Wastewater Compliance Program


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dental Effluent Guidelines (40 CFR 441) took effect on July 14, 2017. Dentists that place or remove amalgam are required to install amalgam separators and follow two Best Management Practices (BMPs). All dentists must now be in compliance.

Due dates for submitting One-Time Compliance Reports are as follows.

  • All existing dentists:  October 12, 2020 (Reports are now late and dentists are subject to enforcement)
  • New dentists:  Within 90 days of initial discharge 
  • Transfer of ownership: The new owner must submit within 90 days of the transfer

Dentists that never place and only remove amalgam in limited, unanticipated circumstances are exempt from installing an amalgam separator or following the BMPS, but must submit the One-Time Compliance Report certifying as such by the due dates above.

Failure to comply and submit the One-Time Compliance Report could result in a Notice of Violation, Significant Non-Compliance, or an Administrative Order and could lead to the imposition of fines or penalties. Users that are not in compliance may also be reported to the EPA. Inspections, while not required by the rule, may be used by Regional San to determine compliance.

Information here is specific to dental facilities located in the Regional San service area. Click here to determine if you are in Regional San’s service area. Please contact your local sewer agency for their requirements and One-Time Compliance Report form. If your local sewer agency does not have a pretreatment program, you must report to the State Water Resources Control Board.

The regulations and information from the EPA can be found at the following links:

Dental Office Point Source Category Regulations (40 CFR Part 441)

EPA’s Dental Effluent Guidelines

If you have questions, please contact us at (916) 875-6470 or click here to send us a message.


Program Details

Who is affected?

Dentists who place or remove amalgam must install an amalgam separator and implement BMPs.

  • This includes institutions, permanent or temporary offices, clinics, home offices, and Federal, state, or local government owned and operated facilities

Dentists who never place amalgam and do not remove amalgam except in limited unplanned, unanticipated circumstances (estimated to be less than 5% of removals) must certify as such but do not have to install an amalgam separator or implement the BMPs. 

The following dentists are exempt from this regulation:

  • Dentists that exclusively practice one or more of the following specialties: oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, or prosthodontics
  • Mobile units providing services in multiple locations
  • Dentists that do not discharge amalgam wastewater to the sewer, such as those that collect all amalgam process wastewater to ship off site for disposal

What is required?

Installation of an appropriately sized amalgam separator compliant with one of the following:

  • ANSI American National Standard/ADA Specification 108 for Amalgam Separators (2009) with Technical Addendum (2011) or subsequent versions with a minimum 95% removal efficiency
  • ISO 11143 Standard (2008) or subsequent versions with a minimum 95% removal efficiency
  • An equivalent device may be used if it meets the requirements listed in 40 CFR 441.30(2)

Implementation of the following BMPs:

  • Waste amalgam must not be discharged to the sewer
  • Oxidizing or acidic cleaners, including but not limited to bleach, chlorine, iodine, or peroxide cleaners or cleaners with pH lower than 6 or greater than 8, must not be used to clean dental unit wastewater lines, chair-side traps, and vacuum lines

When is compliance required?

Existing dentist?

New dentist?

Do not place and only remove amalgam in limited circumstances?

  • Certify as such through submittal of a One-Time Compliance Report now for existing dentists and within 90 days of initial discharge for new dentists

Change of ownership?

NOTE: Do not use EPA’s sample form. 

What happens if I don’t comply?

Regional San could take the following actions in cases of non-compliance.

  • Issue enforcement actions or impose fines or penalties
  • Report non-compliance to the EPA
  • Inspect to determine compliance

Recordkeeping and Continuing Compliance Requirements

  • Maintain the One-Time Compliance Report as long as the practice is in business or until ownership is transferred
  • Maintain the following documents for a minimum of three years:
    • Inspection records
    • Documentation of amalgam retaining unit replacement
    • Disposal records
    • Documentation of any repair or replacement of the amalgam separator
    • Manufacturer’s operating manual
  • For hazardous waste questions in Sacramento County, contact the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, Environmental Compliance Division at (916) 875-8550, or in West Sacramento contact the Yolo County Environmental Health Division, Hazardous Materials Programs at (530) 666-8646.
Continuing Compliance Requirements
  • Inspect the amalgam separator according to the manufacturer’s operating manual
  • Repair or replace a malfunctioning amalgam separator within 10 days of being discovered
  • Replace the amalgam retaining units in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedule or when it has reached the maximum level, whichever comes first

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