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Dental Amalgam Program
Dental offices use and generate certain substances that when improperly discharged to the sewer system, may end up in our oceans, bays, and other receiving waters and may cause harm to the environment. Although dental offices deal with small amounts of pollutants and toxic wastes, the cumulative effects of the materials can be significant. The Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) has developed a Dental Amalgam program to help Castro Valley dental offices get the information and resources necessary to follow the required dental amalgam best practices.
Resources for Dentists:
- Best Management Practices Poster
- ADA Best Management Practices Brochure
- Self-Certification of Amalgam Management Requirements
Facilities that practice one or more of the following are exempt from the Dental Amalgam Program requirements, as long as the practice does not remove or replace amalgam fillings:
• Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
• Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine
Best Management Practices (BMPs) in Dental Offices:
The following practices should be followed by all non-exempt Dentists and dental offices in Castro Valley to reduce mercury waste discharged to the sewer. During inspections, CVSan will help identify areas where practices or equipment can be improved to meet the sewer discharge pretreatment requirements.
1. Vacuum Pump/ Suction Requirement: Vacuum pumps should be equipped with filters. Clean or replace central vacuum filters regularly. During restoration procedures, maximize use of the high speed suction (vacuum) and rubber dams, thereby, more amalgam waste is captured.
2. Selection of Amalgam Capsules: Do not use bulk liquid mercury. Use pre-measured amalgam capsules of various sizes, to provide better mixing and reduce waste.
3. Selection of Line Cleaners: Do not use bleach and other chlorine-containing products when cleaning the vacuum system, as it dissolves mercury out of amalgam. Line cleaning products must have a pH that does not invalidate the warranty of the vacuum pump or amalgam separator manufacturer.
4. Amalgam Waste Handling Techniques: Do not rinse amalgam-containing traps, filters or containers in the sink or other sanitary sewer connection. Change traps per manufacturers recommended frequency. Do not place amalgam waste with regular solid waste or medical waste.
Contact Amalgam: Collect used capsules, chair-side screens and traps, vacuum system screens and filters in a large airtight plastic container for recycling.
Non-Contact Amalgam: Collect non-contact amalgam scrap separately in small airtight plastic containers from each operatory, for recycling.
Mixed Scrap Amalgam: Disinfect extracted teeth with amalgam fillings and collect them in airtight mixed amalgam scrap-recycling containers. Use transparent bottle traps under sinks and cuspidor drains of each operatory. Collect waste from traps and place them with other mixed scrap amalgam waste.
Do not add water or waste fixer to any of these containers. Keep them dry at all times.
5. Recycling Amalgam Waste: Have a licensed hazardous waste hauler pick up amalgam waste for recycling.
6. Staff Training: Train staff annually in proper handling and disposal of amalgam materials. Also train new staff when hired. Maintain training log for all employees, for 3 years and make sure that records are readily available for inspection.
Some Useful References:
- BAPPG's List of Approved Amalgam Separators
- ADA's List of Dental Waste Recyclers
- BACWA's List of Approved Line Cleaners
- ADA's Amalgam Separator Selection Considerations
- Sample Employee Training Log
- Click here for a list of Castro Valley Dentists who are committed to safe amalgam practices.