The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that dentists should employ amalgam separators to reduce the threats posed by improper amalgam disposal. Under this proposal, dentists must use devices to remove mercury and other toxic metals before they go down the drain.
Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said: “This proposed rule would cut mercury and toxic metal discharges to public wastewater systems by at least 8.8 tonnes a year nationwide. Bay Area communities already require dentists to use amalgam capture devices and have seen their mercury pollution levels drop nearly 75 per cent. Now the rest of California and the nation will see the same benefits.”
EPA says that about half the mercury that enters public water treatment systems comes from dental offices that do not use amalgam separators. When mercury from amalgam is discharged into water bodies, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals.
EPA will conduct a public hearing on the proposal on 10 November. It expects to finalise a rule in September 2015.
The American Dental Association said: “The Association is reviewing the draft proposal rule and will comment once the review is completed.”