EPA Compliance is coming closer, with many Dental Professionals not knowing what an amalgam separator is, let alone why they need one in their Dental Practice. M.A.R.S has released this four-part blog series on “What is an Amalgam Separator?” to help shine a light on what an amalgam separator does, how they function, and how they are certified.
Today, we will be focusing on the International Standards (ISO 11143) for amalgam separators. The current most up to date version of the ISO was released in 2008, not since being updated to match current technologies or testing standards.
How They Function
The previous blogs in this series have already explained how amalgam separators function but as a recap. Most amalgam separators are sedimentation types (Type 2). These systems are made to capture any material heavier than water.
A common misunderstanding about amalgam separators is that they only capture amalgam. In truth, amalgam is only roughly 10% (on the very high end) of what is captured by an amalgam separator. The remainder is a combination of any heavy material you suctioned through your evacuation lines, prophy paste being a large percentage of that material
Outdated Testing Standards
Unfortunately, just because an amalgam separator has been ISO tested, does not mean it will comply with your local standards. The current ISO testing standards only test for solid mercury under ideal laboratory environment. In 2002, it was found by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario that ISO tested amalgam separators do not meet their ISO separation percentages when tested in real clinical applications.
Furthermore, Water Treatment Plants test Dental Clinic discharge using the EPA Standard 245.7, a much higher testing standard than ISO, as it looks for TOTAL mercury (solid and dissolved).
The Issue with ISO 11143
All amalgam separators are required to be ISO 11143 certified, which only tests for solid mercury. Unfortunately, the technology and standards of ISO testing on amalgam separators have not been updated to meet the current requirements of the POTWs who will be setting and verifying the discharge limits.
Generally, how amalgam separators work is based on settling of anything heavier than water. The issue with this method, as mentioned above, is when mercury amalgam is submerged in water, it is released into its soluble form. This means these types of amalgam separators will generate and release soluble mercury, making it harder to meet the POTW discharge limits.
The M.A.R.S Difference
The M.A.R.S. LibertyBOSS goes one step further by adding an extra-large media bed to filter soluble mercury. The LibertyBOSS has been independently tested, at the EPA Standard 245.7, to be the only amalgam separator to capture soluble mercury. This is one of the ways the M.A.R.S. LibertyBOSS is different from any ISO tested amalgam separator. Our process makes the LibertyBOSS not only the most Environmentally Friendly amalgam separator but the Best Available Technology in the industry.
What is an Amalgam Separator?
M.A.R.S hopes this four-part blog series was able to highlight the necessary information, required to not only understand how amalgam separators function but also learn what is needed from your Dental Practice to be compliant with the new EPA Regulation.