Written by: Drew Vanderbrook, D.D.S. (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
July 14, 2020. If you haven’t heard, this is the date you must have an amalgam separator installed in your office to comply with EPA amalgam waste regulations. If you have built an office in the last few years, you may already have one installed. If you do not have one yet, I’ll share some information to help you choose which one is best for your office.
You may not need to comply if you meet any of the exceptions. You may not place amalgam fillings currently, but you likely still remove them. You can file a one-time compliance report if you remove less than 9 cases of amalgam from teeth per year.
Other exemptions include:
- Dentists that practice in oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, and prosthodontics.
- Dentists who do not place amalgam and only remove amalgam in unplanned or emergency situations (estimated at less than 5 percent of removals).
- Mobile dental units.
- Dentists that already have separators are grandfathered for 10 years.
If you need to purchase an amalgam separator, there are a few options for you. The main differences in amalgam separators are capacity, how the amalgam is captured and recycled, and the cost to buy and operate them yearly. It is important to verify the size of your main suction line into your suction unit. Choosing the wrong size may reduce the suction volume in your office. You can estimate the capacity of your separator by multiplying the number of operatories in your office by the average waste produced per operatory (0.5 liters).
There are many options when choosing the right amalgam separator for your office. The ADA has a preferred vendor in HealthFirst that offers a 33% discount to ADA members. TDA Perks has partnered with Solmetex. They offer a free collection container ($338 value) with recycling to TDA members.
For more information, click here to visit the ADA member center regarding amalgam separators.