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The compliance date for existing dental offices to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) effluent limitations to reduce the sewer discharge of mercury and other metals is a little over a year away. On July 14, 2020, existing dental offices must comply with three specific best management practices for amalgam waste:
- Installing/using amalgam separators compliant with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 11143 2008 standard (or equivalent). Records of amalgam separator maintenance, inspection and repair, and amalgam waste disposal/recycling must be maintained for at least three years.
- Not flushing amalgam waste down the drain, such as from traps or filters.
- Prohibiting the use of cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of mercury when cleaning traps and vacuum lines, such as bleach or cleaners that contain chlorine, iodine, or peroxide. Cleaners must also have a pH between six and eight.
Dental offices that only remove amalgam fillings in limited emergency or unplanned, unanticipated circumstances are exempt from the requirements. Additionally, the new rule does not apply to mobile units or to offices where the practice of dentistry consists only of the following dental specialties: oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, or prosthodontics. Dentists who already have separators installed that do not meet the ISO 11143 standard are grandfathered for ten years.
Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.