Amalgam Waste Guidelines (According to the Department of Ecology in the State of Washington)
Dental amalgam, an alloy comprising mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other metals, often exceeds environmentally-safe mercury levels. Amalgam waste can contaminate chair-side traps, vacuum pump filters, septic systems, and may carry waste codes D009 (mercury) and D011 (silver).
To recycle or dispose of amalgam waste, follow these steps:
- Use an amalgam recycler or hazardous waste hauler to recycle both scrap (non-contact) and contact amalgam. Comply with the specific requirements provided by your recycler.
- Store contact and non-contact scrap amalgam in tightly sealed containers.
- Label containers as "Dangerous Waste Mercury" and "Toxic."
- Avoid using heat-based disinfection methods, as heat causes mercury to become volatile.
- If storing scrap amalgam under used x-ray fixer, water, or other liquids, do not pour the liquid down the drain.
Prevent scrap amalgam from entering:
- Sharps containers or red biohazard bags.
- Trash bins.
- High-speed suctions (e.g., vacuum lines).
Adhering to these guidelines helps ensure proper management and disposal of amalgam waste, reducing its harmful impact on the environment.
Amalgam Separators Overview
All dental practices utilizing mercury-containing amalgams must install amalgam separators, which need to be ISO 14011 certified. Dental wastewater typically contains mercury concentrations ranging from 100 to 2,000 parts per million (ppm). However, state regulations mandate safe levels to be 0.2 ppm or lower. Amalgam separators are designed to capture fine scrap amalgam particles that may bypass traps or screens before entering the sewer system.
Amalgam separators can effectively remove up to 99% of mercury present in dental wastewater.
Handling Mercury from Separators:
The collected mercury from amalgam separators can be recycled, ensuring proper disposal and minimal environmental impact.
Contact our team at 1 (800) 569-1088 or fill out our contact form if you need any help choosing a replacement amalgam separator for your dental practice, we are always happy to help.