Preventing Pollution from Dental Offices
Dental office vacuum lines, sinks, and toilets all lead to local sewer lines. Anything put down the drain goes to a wastewater treatment plant before being discharged to San Francisco Bay. Because these treatment facilities are not designed to remove metals like mercury and silver, Bay Area wastewater treatment agencies have long sought your support to comply with regulatory permits and protect the Bay.
**** Federal EPA Requirement, Effective July 2017 ****
All dental offices that place or remove amalgam must comply with the following:
- Dental offices must submit a one-time compliance report to their Control Authority (local sewer agency for the SF Bay Area) certifying that they have installed, operate, and maintain an amalgam separator that meets the ISO 11143 Standard or the ANSI/ADA Specification 108, or equivalent. Form can be obtained from your local sewer agency or from ADA/CDA
- Dental office must follow two best management practices (BMPs):
a. Waste amalgam from chair-side traps, screens, filters, dental tools, and other devices must not be discharged to a POTW; and b. Dental unit water lines, chair-side traps, and vacuum lines must not be cleaned with oxidizing or acidic cleaners.
- Dental offices complying with existing state or local amalgam separator programs must still meet these requirements. State or local amalgam separator programs must be at least as stringent but can be more stringent than the federal standards
- Dental offices may continue to use existing dental amalgam separators for their lifetime or ten years, whichever comes first.
- To learn more about the new requirements, please read the EPA Dental Effluent Guidelines.
Compliance deadlines are July 14, 2020 for existing dental practices in operation as of June 14, 2017 and within 90 days of starting to discharge to sanitary sewer agency for new dental practices (started after June 14, 2017).
- Press Release from CDA regarding the new federal requirements
- Information from the ADA regarding the new federal requirements
Find Your Sewer Agency
Your local Sewer Agency (City or Special District) is tasked with implementing the new regulations. They may have additional requirements such as BMP’s, permits or reporting. Please contact your local Sewer Agency to find out more.
- The California Dental Association (CDA) has developed an Amalgam Separator Inspection and Maintenance Log
- CDA list of Best Management Practices
- Considerations when purchasing amalgam separators prepared by the American Dental Association