by: Kevin Shropshire, Environmental Specialist City of Orlando, Environmental Control Section
Dental Amalgam has been found to be a source of Mercury (Hg) in municipal waste streams. As we learned from the Jacksonville
Electric Authority (JEA) representative at the May 2010 FIPA conference, possible dental amalgam regulations are in the future for EPA and FDEP. But how far along are they? Research into their websites reveals that EPA has planned on releasing effluent guidelines for the dental industry in 2011, effective 2012, but as of the date of this newsletter, EPA has yet to release said effluent guideline rules.
Currently in place is the December 2008, “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Reducing Dental Amalgam Discharges,” with the American Dental Association (ADA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). This program is to monitor the effectiveness of education & voluntary installation of dental amalgam removal devices. Both the ADA and NACWA websites have BMP listings for dental amalgam, but are these BMPs being followed? Times and Budgets are tight these days, and municipalities can only afford to enforce listed state & federal regulations.
A few cities, Jacksonville for example, have initiated a Best Management Practice (BMP) requirement for Dental facilities to go above & beyond the voluntary aspect and begin the regulated amalgam removal from their waste stream.
I have made contact with EPA in Washington D.C. and the proposed Dental Amalgam effluent guideline rule has been scheduled for release in the spring of 2012. I will update the organization when and if I receive any further updates from EPA. Until then, EPA encourages both dentists and dental students to employ the GRIT actions in their practices to prevent mercury pollution.
Directly from EPA’s website:
The G.R.I.T. actions below highlight the American Dental Association’s (ADA’s) best management practices for amalgam waste.
“G”: Gray Bag It – Discard amalgam wastes into a gray bag.
“R”: Recycle It – Select a responsible dental amalgam recycler who can manage your waste amalgam safely from the list of recyclers below.
“I”: Install It — Install an amalgam separator to capture up to 95% of the mercury going down the drain. This is the KEY to success.
“T”: Teach It – Educate and train staff about the proper management of dental amalgam.
FDEP has their 2001 BMP for Scrap Dental Amalgam (2001) available online at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/quick_topics/publications/shw/mercury/AmalgamBMPsBrochure.pdf.
EPA has their MUO available at: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/upload/2008_12_31_guide_dental_mou.pdf