Managing waste to prevent mercury pollution
The federal rule regulating dental amalgam waste is consistent with the state-level Dental Amalgam Rule established by the Washington Department of Ecology with support from the Washington State Dental Association. The rule is designed to prevent mercury, in the form of dental amalgam, from entering wastewater, and ultimately being released into the environment. In the aquatic environment, mercury bioaccumulates in fish and shellfish; mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause a wide range of health issues.
This rule requires dental offices that place or remove mercury amalgam to:
- Operate and maintain a mercury amalgam separator
- Document maintenance
- Submit a one-time Compliance Report to LOTT
- Follow Best Management Practices
New dental offices must remove dental amalgam solids from all wastewater by using an approved mercury amalgam separator or equivalent before discharging wastewater to the Lacey, Olympia, or Tumwater sewer system. A phase-in period for existing dental offices expired, and these facilities must also install and maintain an approved mercury amalgam separator.