The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that amalgam from dental offices is a main source of mercury discharges into municipal sewer systems. After entering the sewer system the metals are subsequently released to the environment. Therefore, to reduce discharges of mercury and other metals from dental offices into municipal sewer systems, the EPA updated the Clean Water Act (CWA) effective July 14, 2017. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) incorporated the changes to the CWA specific to amalgam from dental offices into rule Chapter 62-625, Florida Administrative Code (FAC) on May 23, 2018. The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department (WUD) pretreatment program, as required, is following the FDEP rule.
Therefore, as required by federal and state regulation, the WUD pretreatment program now includes:
- Mandatory use of amalgam separators/capture devices (pretreatment) by dental offices that handle amalgam and,
- Submission of a One Time Compliance Report to WUD.
The EPA now also requires record keeping by dentist's offices that handle amalgam as discussed below.
Separating mercury and metals from waste is easy to manage in the dentist's office, where it is still concentrated. This is a common sense solution for managing mercury and other metals that would otherwise be released into the air, land, and water also allows for recycling of these wastes. The EPA's amalgam pretreatment requirement closely follows the Best Management Practices (BMPs) recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Fortunately, these new requirements minimize dental office reporting requirements and the administrative burden to federal, state, and local regulatory authorities responsible for oversight of the new requirements. Compliance with this final rule will reduce the discharge of metals country wide and allow these metals to be recycled.