Dentist in Downers Grove
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule on Dec. 15 requiring dental practices nationwide to install amalgam separators. Over the years, many areas of the country have required a dental separator. Until now, the Northern Illinois area had no such regulation.
Our office installed a separator 25 years ago.
Why is this ruling important to me?
Since 1989 I have made presentations to dentists regarding the environmental impact of amalgam from dental offices.
In 1990-91, our office tested the efficiency of the earliest separator models for the Rebec Company.
Why is this important to the environment?
Mercury enters the community sewer line whenever a dentist places or removes an amalgam (50% mercury) filling. The wastewater treatment plant captures the heavy metals like mercury and then has to dispose of them either by selling the “sludge” as fertilizer or burning it off (and expose the mercury once more to the environment via the smoke stack.) With a separator, the capture filter periodically is sent to a company that responsibly recycles the mercury, complete with a paper trail for the dentist.
The new EPA rule is effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Unfortunately, the date for compliance for most dentists will be three years from now, at the end of 2019.
Additional highlights of the rule include:
- Dentists who practice in oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, and prosthodontics are exempt from the rule;
- Dentists who do not place amalgam and only remove amalgam in unplanned or emergency situations (estimated at less than 5 percent of removals) are also exempt;
- Mobile dental units are exempt
2017 is starting out as a very good year.