Seven Things to Know about the EPA's Amalgam Rule
After years of working with the ADA and addressing dentists' concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule on Dec. 15 requiring dental practices nationwide to install amalgam separators. Here are seven things you need to know about the rule:
1. The ADA believes this new rule, which is a federal standard, is preferable to a patchwork of rules and regulations across various states and localities.
2. The new rule meets the nine principles established by the ADA House of Delegates as a condition for ADA support for a national rule.
3. The ADA has developed a number of resources to aid member dentists with questions they may have regarding compliance. These resources are available at ADA.org/RecycleAmalgam.
4. Most dentists will not be required to comply with the rule until three years from now, at the end of 2019. Dentists who already have separators are “grandfathered in” for 10 years. Offices that open after the effective date will need to be in compliance upon opening.
5. The rule closely follows ADA's own best management practices (BMPs) and incorporates three of those BMPs:
- Requires use of separators;
- Prohibits flushing waste amalgam (including waste from traps or filters) down the drain; and
- Prohibits the use of bleach or chlorine-containing cleaners that may lead to the dissolution of mercury from amalgam when cleaning chair-side traps and vacuum lines.
6. A number of dentists are exempt from the rule, including:
- Dentists who 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); and
- Dentists who operate mobile dental units.
7. Since 2013, ADA's Business Resources has partnered with HealthFirst, a vendor that offers ADA member dentists special pricing on an amalgam separator device that will meet the federal regulatory requirements. Learn about the due diligence that was performed before extending this endorsement.
To learn more about the rule and explore ADA resources for member dentists, visit ADA.org/RecycleAmalgam.